X Games weekend is upon us once again and for all its flaws, it remains the biggest and best comp weekend of the year. We kick things off with Women's Big Air and the weekend is rounded out by the traditional SuperPipe spectacular on Sunday night. With a stacked field, and at the risk of looking very stupid, we figured we'd throw some predictions out there and suggest some highlights, aside from the return of Henrik Harlaut to the competition scene of course.
Probably the most hotly contested event of the weekend, slopestyle is bound to be a banger. The setup looks pretty wild (that wheel feature?!) and anyone on the start list could take this, though we're not exactly sure how this list of athletes came about. That aside, Birk Ruud has been on a murder mission so far this season, and he's going to be one of the hot favorites. Jesper Tjader can be counted on to do something mental and get underscored for it, and Henrik, Eddy T and Max Moffat will be sure to bring the style to proceedings.
On the women's side, it's hard to look beyond Eileen Gu for the win, even if slopestyle is probably her weakest discipline. Tess Ledeux is bound to push her close though, and Sarah Hoefflin has been adding a bunch of unique rail choices to her runs (Tokyo drift on in Stubai, Sw 2 transfer in Laax), while Mathilde Gremaud and Johanne Killi are always a podium threat. Olivia Asselin and Kirsty Muir are notably absent from the start list, and given the depth of the field these days, it's mental not to have equal numbers in the women's fields.
1) Alex Hall
2) Birk Ruud
3) Andri Ragettli
1) Eileen Gu
2) Tess Ledeux
3) Sarah Hoefflin
Big Air features many of the same candidates as slopestyle, and realistically the podium threats are probably similar too. It remains to be seen what the rules will be this time round, and whether they can get the right people on the podium this time. Eileen Gu is probably the favorite again on the women's side with her closest competition likely to be Tess Ledeux. But Mathilde Gremaud has the tricks to push them to the wire, and we're wondering if we might see the first triple on the women's side this year...
For the boys, Matej has to be considered a threat, if the judges/commentators can figure out what the tricks he does even are. Birk Ruud has been looking unstoppable in Big Air so he has to be right up there too. Anyone in the field could be a threat though, and we hope to see some creativity on show among the meathucking.
1) Matej Svancer
2) Birk Ruud
3) Alex Hall
1) Mathilde Gremaud
2) Eileen Gu
3) Tess Ledeux
It's fair to say halfpipe has been bumped down the billing order since the glory days of the THall vs Dumont primetime TV advert hype. But the spectacle provided by pipe under then lights of Aspen is still hard to beat. It's hard to look past an Eileen Gu win in the women's event. No disrespect to the other athletes but recently it has been a case of she lands, she wins in halfpipe. The battle for second between Hannah Faulhabers' amplitude, and the tech of the likes of Rachel Karker, Amy Fraser and Kelly Sildaru, is a more interesting battlefield.
For the men, we've seen different winners at each event so far this season so it could be anybody's game, and Nico Porteus being out injured really opens the field up. We think all of the athletes, with the exception of Aaron Blunck and David Wise, have podiumed this year, and they both have sizeable gold medal hauls of their own. This might be the hardest event of all to call, but we expect a close one, which always makes for good viewing.
1) Brendan Mackay
2) Birk Irving
3) Jon Sallinen
1) Eileen Gu
2) Rachel Karker
3) Amy Fraser
In some ways, a side-event, knuckle huck is our favorite event of X Games and categorically the most fun to watch. Honestly, it doesn't really matter who wins because this is one of the few chances for proper freeskiing has in the spotlight, but we can't wait to watch this crew ski. They all have a unique take on things but we're rolling the dice with our top three and hoping for the best.
1) Matej Svancer
Let us know who you think is taking the Ws this weekend and any other predictions about what's going down.
Ski Schedule (all Eastern Time):
FRIDAY JAN. 27
15:30 - 17:00: Special Olympics Unified Skiing & Snowboarding
19:30 - 20:15: Women's Ski Big Air
21:30 - 22:10: Men's Ski Knuckle Huck
SATURDAY JAN. 28
12:30 - 13:50: Jeep Men's Ski Slopestyle
19:00 - 20:00: Monster Energy Women's Ski SuperPipe
SUNDAY JAN. 29
13:00 - 14:00: Jeep Women's Ski Slopestyle
19:15 - 20:15: Men's Ski Big Air
20:30 - 21:30: Monster Energy Men's Ski SuperPipe