X Games Aspen 2020 kicked off Thursday night (January 23) at Buttermilk mountain in Aspen Snowmass, Colorado, where day one of the 24th edition of the X Games winter event began with a few eliminations and closed out with the first-ever Ski Knuckle Huck, Monster Energy Men’s Snowboard SuperPipe and Pacifico Women’s Big Air.
The first event of the day was Special Olympic Unified Snowboarding, where defending champions Henry Meece and Chris Klug were finally dethroned after five years. X Games legend Mike Schultz and ESPN talent Daina Shilts took home gold, while Danny Davis and Dmitrii Tiufiakov took silver and host of X Games Jack Mitrani and Meece took bronze. Immediately following was the first-ever Special Olympics Unified Skiing event at X Games Aspen, in which Gus Kenworthy and Palmer Lyons took gold.
“After six years I finally got it, I finally..oh my gosh, my adrenaline is so high right now,” Daina Shilts said after the final results were in. “I’m shaking so bad, I’ve worked to get this to this spot but in the end, it’s not about finishing first, it’s about finishing having fun.”
Next up was the first event on the Jeep Slopestyle course, Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle Elimination. Originally a first alternate, Brock Crouch took the top spot with a tricks that included a pole jam up 180, switch 50-50 and cab 360 out on the rails, a switchback 1080 double and a cab 1260 on the jumps. Judged on overall impression with a new jam session format, Judd Henkes, Red Gerard, Darcy Sharpe and Sven Thorgren also qualified for the final, which takes place on Saturday afternoon.
The other Elimination of the day was The Real Cost Men’s Ski Big Air. Featuring athletes from seven different countries, Finnish skier Elias Syrja took the top spot, followed by Antoine Adelisse, Christian Nummedal, Henrik Harlaut and Andri Ragletti moved onto the final. No one from France or Finland has won gold in this discipline, so Syrja, whose best tricks included a switch triple cork 1440, and Adelisse could be the first.
X Games rookie Colby Stevenson won the first ever Ski Knuckle Huck, who was in the top spot for the entire duration of the 20-minute jam session that was scored based on overall impression.
Scotty James defended his gold medal in Monster Energy Men’s Snowboard SuperPipe, marking his 10th straight competition win and remaining undefeated since the start of the 2018/19 season. James’ tricks included a switch backside double 1260, cab 1080, frontside 900 grabbing nose and a double backside 1260. Just like last year, James used his victory lap to high-five fans along the deck of the SuperPipe. Yuto Totsuka took silver once again and Swiss rider Jan Scherrer earned his first X Games medal with bronze.
“It never gets old, that feeling is unbelievable and to do it here at X Games is very, very special to me,” James said after winning his third gold medal. “I mean, X Games is a pinnacle for us and I dreamt of getting one X Games medal and now I’m adding another to my collection, so I’m absolutely pumped.”
Japanese riders swept the podium in the Pacifico Women’s Snowboard Big Air, where X Games rookie Miyabi Onitsuka took gold, Kokomo Murase took silver and Reira Iwabuchi took bronze. Onitsuka threw down a few runs in the jam session format that included a double backside rodeo, a frontside 1080 and a backside 1080 double cork.
X Games Aspen continues tomorrow with Jeep Men’s Ski Slopestyle Elimination, The Real Cost Men’s Snowboard Big Air Elimination, Snowmobile Freestyle, Women’s Ski Big Air, Great Clips Men’s Ski SuperPipe Elimination, The Real Cost Men’s Ski Big Air and SuperPipe Session. Following competition, hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd kicks off three days of music on the GEICO stage.