And finally, the halfpipe. We clocked Ben Ferguson’s insane run – more video part than contest standard – on Instagram as we woke up this morning and couldn’t comprehend how anyone had managed to beat that bunch of tricks strung together between the scariest drop in ever and a frontside eurocarve ender, but we’d forgotten about Scotty James and Ayumu Hirano.
In a White/Pearce level of escalation, the two had spent the evening going mano-a-mano on each other, the Aussie appropriately attired in boxing gloves. Remember when back-to-back 720s was a thing people talked about? Ayumu went with – and landed – back-to-back double 1440s, slowing down a gear and going frontside 1260 to backside 1260 on the final two hits for a score of 99.00. James’ front 12, back 12, switch back 12 was right up there in terms of insanity, but whereas he threw some slower, smoother tricks into the mix for 98.00, the judges clearly valued the extra big banger from the Japanese rider.
Amongst the big names missing from the podium, The Artist Formerly Known As The Flying Tomato was most conspicuous by his absence, citing a need to rest before Pyeongchang. Iouri Podladchikov came out on a high from his victory at Laax, but suffered a nasty-sounding nasal fracture in a crash – rest up iPod!
Men’s Bronze – Ben Ferguson
Men’s Silver – Scotty James
Men’s Gold – Ayumu Hirano
Whilst we’re not oblivious to the reason’s behind the X Games’ success – a good story will always trump trick technicalities to a more mainstream audience – we did have some head scratching to do after the women’s pipe finals. Chloe Kim’s back-to-back 10s was a feat in itself as she continues to step up the female game, but her grabs still leave a lot to be desired. Yes, she deserved the win by a mile, but with those scores consistently tight in the 90s, the judging looks more like a Hollywood script and less like a serious contest each year.
“Scores coming in so consistently tight in the 90s look more and more like a Hollywood script each year and less like a serious contest”
Maddie Mastro and Arielle Gold rounded out an all-American podium in third and second respectively, and with all three representing Team USA in Korea next month – and Australia’s Torah Bright absent – it looks like it will be the same story at the Olympics. The only question is whether veteran Kelly Clark can come back from the knee injury she suffered on her second run. She might be wishing she’d pulled a White and stayed home for this one, but we’re wishing her a speedy recovery and record-breaking fifth Games!
Women’s Bronze – Maddie Mastro
Women’s Silver – Arielle Gold
Women’s Gold – Chloe Kim
And that’s it for X Games 2018 – apart from this: the answer to the question ‘what could be stupider than snowmobile long jump?’