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Toutant leads youth movement

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Jim Ryan Special to The Aspen TimesSebastien Toutant won Sunday's snowboard slopestyle at the Winter X Games.
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ASPEN, Colorado – Step aside “Flying Tomato.” “Seb Toots” and a contingent of fellow youngsters now rule Winter X men’s snowboard slopestyle.

Montreal native Sebastien Toutant’s Winter X debut was delayed one year because of a gruesome practice fall before the 2010 games. The 18-year-old made his first appearance in Aspen a memorable one.

Toutant nabbed the top spot in Friday’s slopestyle qualifier with a score of 97, and then picked up a silver medal in big air that night. He parlayed that momentum into a first-run 93 and a near wire-to-wire slopestyle final victory Sunday at Buttermilk.



In doing so, Toutant likely ushered in a new era in one of snowboarding’s marquee events. He shared the podium with two 17-year-olds: friend and fellow Canadian Mark McMorris (90) and Mammoth Lakes, Calif.’s Tyler Flanagan (82.66).

The future is now.



“Slopestyle has been progressing so much,” said Toutant, sporting a pair of gold shades to match his latest piece of Winter X hardware. “We get a little advantage. If you look back … the jump was so small, flat landing and everything was so bad, you know, for practicing. For us, we grew up riding at like 9 years [old] and it was perfect park, perfect landing, perfect rails. Everything was built so good.

“Just to see the older riders pushing us to get better, it helped us so much. And just to ride with [these] guys in practice pushing each other and learning some new stuff. Just to be on the podium with those guys is amazing. This makes my day.”

Toutant’s plan to compete in both big air and slopestyle at last year’s games was derailed by a practice-run crash in which he overshot the landing area on a jump, breaking an ankle and a wrist.

He was off his snowboard for nearly three months, but Toutant insists he has come back stronger than ever.

He will get no argument after this week.

In Friday’s big air finals, Toutant finished ahead of everyone but Norwegian Torstein Horgmo, who landed a triple cork – with broken ribs, no less.

He was even better Sunday. Toutant’s technical first run was highlighted by a back-side rodeo off the cannon box, a cab 1260 and a double back-side 1080.

“I wasn’t really surprised when Seb landed. He always lands,” McMorris said. “It was an unbelievable run.”

“I had a super bad practice [Sunday morning]. It was so flat light, I couldn’t land, couldn’t see anything,” Toutant added. “The first run, the sun showed up.

“I had no expectations. I came here to have fun and be with all my friends. Just to be invited was crazy. After the big air when I got silver, I was like, ‘Dude, I got an opportunity maybe to get really good slopestyle as well.’ Today I put it down. I’m just happy. It’s like a dream come true.”

Flanagan secured his place in the top three with a strong second run.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t have the greatest practice. I didn’t land that last jump all day,” said Flanagan, who was 11th in this event in 2010. “I was really nervous up at the top. I started my run off and started off good. I was just able to pull it together.”

McMorris, a Winter X newcomer who was fifth after two runs, finally pulled it together on his final attempt.

“I don’t know, I was pretty much peeing my pants up there,” the Regina, Saskatchewan, native joked. “I was really nervous, but I knew I had practiced the run a lot. … As soon as I landed that second jump, I felt like it was pretty much done.

“There’s really no description how it feels. [Toutant and I] ride together so much and push it like every day all day, going from contest to contest to contest. It’s really cool to see each other on the podium. It’s so much fun.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com


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