Olenick X’ed out by snow
Post Independent Staff
ASPEN ” Normally, snow is a good thing for skiers. But in Sunday’s Winter X Games, it was quite the opposite.
Consistent and heavy snowfall, which start
ed Saturday night and lasted through most of Sunday, caused the men’s skiing slopestyle course to be too slow and forced the event to be canceled and replaced with men’s skiing best trick.
Instead of having a staircase to ride down, a wide variety of rails to grind, different jumps to hit and tabletops to slide across, skiers were left with one choice. Instead of being judged on multiple tricks, it was all or nothing.
“It’s awful,” said Peter Olenick, who was one of 20 skiers to change their whole routine. “I trained all year for a slopestyle contest, not a big air contest. Every skier here should be able to do the rails and jumps in these conditions. There is options to do the rail or a jump if you don’t have the speed.”
Olenick, a 22-year-old Carbondale resident and member of Team Aspen/Snowmass who won the silver in 2004’s slopestyle, and the other slopestyle skiers had practiced on the course since Thursday.
But it all went out the window when the event was changed and all focus shifted to who could get the most air, pull the longest grab and impress the judges the most in an all-for-the-marbles jump.
Unlike the structure of the original event, which consisted of a qualifying round and a final round, best trick was turned into one round. Each skier hit the jump (the final obstacle in the original slopestyle course) twice, keeping only their best score. After each skier took their two turns, the top three received medals.
It didn’t start very promising as four of the first five skiers failed to stomp their landings. But then it was Olenick’s turn.
When he hit the jump, he soared through the air performing a switch unnatural 10 with a long grab, and, most importantly, nailed the landing. His 15-plus fan club at the bottom of the jump cheered and waived signs as the judges gave Olenick a 75, crushing the leading score of 54.34.
Waiting in anticipation, Olenick watched others hit the jump. His score kept him at No. 1 for a little while longer, but was dethroned when Laurent Favre posted an 85. Scores sky-rocketed from there and Olenick ended the first round in seventh place.
On his second and final try, Olenick attempted to increase the difficulty of the trick by doing it corked, but couldn’t stick the landing and finished in tenth place.
“I was just pissed off,” Olenick said. “I’m not the best at big air.”
TJ Schiller, who won the U.S. Open skiing slopestyle, ending up winning, throwing down a switch nose 1080 on his first jump that landed him a score of 91.33. Even though he left with a gold medal around his neck, he, like Olenick, was disappointed not to be able to compete in slopestyle.
“I was pretty bummed we couldn’t have slopestyle. I was really working on my rail tricks,” Schiller said in a press release. “Then mother nature decided to dump a foot of snow on us, so there’s nothing you can do about it. But it was a great show, and it was really great to be here.”
Although Olenick wasn’t able to pick up a medal or compete in his favorite event, he is not done with this year’s X Games. He will be back on Tuesday gunning for another medal in skiing superpipe. The qualifying round goes from 10 a.m. to noon, and the finals will take place from 6-8:15 p.m.
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Fans, players and coaches on both sides of Stubler Memorial Field seemed to know it would come down just the way it did, regardless of who had the ball at the end.