Scotty James overcomes training malfunction to win second X Games Aspen gold medal
The Aspen Times
MEN’S SNOWBOARD SUPERPIPE RESULTS
1. Scotty James, 94
2. Yuto Totsuka, 90
3. Danny Davis, 83.66
4. Chase Josey, 82.66
5. Jake Pates, 81
6. Ben Ferguson, 79.33
7. Iouri Podladtchikov, 78.33
8. Toby Miller, 68.33
9. Raibu Katayama, 53.33
10. Pat Burgener, 38.33
Scotty James may have had “a few too many burgers” going into Sunday’s men’s snowboard superpipe contest at X Games Aspen. That’s about the only reason he could find to explain how he broke his snowboard during training ahead of the competition.
“I had a pretty horrible practice, which was really messing with me a little bit. I broke my snowboard and I hadn’t done all my tricks yet or finished the run that I wanted to do,” James said. “I was able to get up and get one more run in, but it was a new board, so it was a little bit hard for me to figure it out. It was a pretty dramatic setup into the competition but I was stoked I was able to pull it off.”
James, the tall, likable Australian know for his boxing glove mittens, did struggle on his first run on his new snowboard. But the reigning Olympic bronze medalist figured it out in his second and put down a run that carried him to his second X Games Aspen title in three years.
“Scotty really took the time to learn the fundamentals. I think a lot of kids skip the fundamentals and go straight to the tricks,” said the 30-year-old Danny Davis, who took bronze on Sunday. “What he does in the air is incredible, but what he does between walls is really incredible — all the edge work. And that’s why he can continue to go big and do really high spinning, high flipping tricks.”
James, 24, won his second Aspen gold medal — his first came in 2017 — with his nearly flawless second run that netted him a score of 94. Yuto Totsuka, a 17-year-old X Games rookie, was the second to drop into the pipe on Sunday. He looked less like a newcomer and more like his Japanese counterpart, reigning X Games Aspen gold medalist Ayumu Hirano, by landing a 90 on his first run.
Hirano, along with halfpipe legend and reigning Olympic gold medalist Shaun White, opted not to compete this year.
“I just give him credit and say congratulations and then I know I got to go out and do what I got to do,” James said of Totsuka, who took silver. “I had some adversity and had a lot of trust in myself and my riding to see past it.”
Davis, a two-time X Games gold medalist and fan favorite, put down a run of 83.66 on his first go, which held on for the bronze. It was his first medal in Aspen since winning the second of back-to-back superpipe contests in 2015. He missed X Games Aspen last year after a “minimal” MCL tear suffered during the Mammoth Grand Prix.
“I’m friendly with everyone and I love to see my friends doing well, but I’m competitive,” Davis said of sitting out X Games last winter. “So to see those guys’ runs and watch from the couch last year was something that maybe lit a little fire under me, for sure. But I’m always going to snowboard. I’m always going to try to learn new tricks. So it doesn’t take much to light a fire under my butt.”
Davis credited the judges’ apparent emphasis on amplitude for him being able to hold on for bronze.
There wasn’t much drama down the stretch in Sunday’s competition. Idaho’s Chase Josey had a solid third run of 82.66, but finished a point short of Davis in fourth. Eagle’s Jake Pates, who briefly trained with the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club when he was younger, scored 81 on his final run to finish in fifth. Oregon’s Ben Ferguson also had his best run in Round 3, scoring 79.33 to take sixth.
For James, returning to the top of the X Games podium meant a lot. He had a phenomenal season last winter, but always seemed to come up short in the major contests. Most notably, he scored an unreal 98 in his final run at X Games Aspen 2018, but lost to Hirano’s 99. Even Ferguson had to settle for bronze last year in Aspen despite a 95. Josey had 90 a year ago and didn’t medal.
“It feels amazing to be back up on top,” James said. “Week after week of getting second and third, second and second and third. It was probably spit of the fire why I came out this year and I wanted to get the gold. And it’s happening for me and it’s a great feeling.”
James, the top returning medalist from last year’s competition, was the last to drop in Sunday. By then, he had his gold medal in the bag. Instead of sending it through the pipe one more time, James rode his snowboard up onto its deck and began to high five the fans lining its side. He then hopped into the pipe, crossed over to the other side, and began to do the same with the spectators over there.
Davis, known for his own jovial nature, loved every second of it.
“He’s just on a tear, man,” Davis said of James. “He’s a confident dude and he’s a nice dude. He’s high-fiving everyone up there. I love to see someone like him doing well. It puts a smile on my face.”
Taking seventh Sunday was Switzerland’s Iouri Podladtchikov, who made his return to the Buttermilk superpipe after his injury there in 2018. The 2014 Olympic gold medalist crashed hard at X Games Aspen last winter, and had to be taken away in an ambulance. He missed the chance to defend his Olympic title because of it.
Taking eighth Sunday was up-and-comer Toby Miller, ninth Japan’s Raibu Katayama and 10th Swiss rider Pat Burgener.