The word on the ski grapevine going into X Games Slopestyle in Norway was that the course was causing issues for lots of the riders, who weren't particularly happy about it. There were a bunch of options in the jib section which was cool but the jumps were pretty small, the landings looked a little flat and speed was lacking. It was pretty dope to see slopestyle go down at night though.
Alex Hall was first to drop and you could instantly see the speed issues I'd heard about when he came up short on the second jump. Even Christian Nummedal, who put the first clean run down, clearly had speed issues on that feature as well. Alex Bellemare had some rail bubbles before Nick Goepper really set the bar managing to dub all 4 ways on the 4 jump features for an 87.33.
Jesper Tjader brought one of the most innovative approaches to an X Games slope course that I've seen to date. He actually started his run by skiing out of the course to side hit flip back in to the rail section, and then a switch dub 10 blender on jump 1. Dope approach, but sadly he crashed on the axe rail feature that is the alternative to the third jump. Bobby Brown put his run down but really needs to step up his rail sections to get the top scores and ABM was taken down hard by the speed on his dub 7 to dub tip catch on the third knuckle. You could see the struggles the guys were having with the course on most of the runs, Joss kept it pretty mellow, McRae had some bobbles on the rails too.
Andri Ragettli can't be stopped though, he put down a score good of 84 for second. His run was solid with a switch dub misty 12 and generally higher rotation counts than the rest, he looked like he had tons in the bag too. Woodsy put down a solid run too, but he did have a slight bobble (minor early off) on one of the rails. It didn't look too bad to me but his score got shafted. Henrik crashed, Oystein had some bobbles too but for some reason wasn't docked nearly as much as Woodsy. Jossi styled out a dope run, including a hand drag hockey slide in between features one and two, the first non-carved switch dub I've even seen him do (speed issues), and a zero spin cannon hit that warmed the heart. Provisional first for him but only for a few minutes. Gus also stomped his run opting for a right 9 on the second feature which was a nice change of pace. 3 dubs and clean rail tricks on the other features were good to bump Jossi to second.
Essentially all the runs were variations of 3-4 ways of doing dub 10s and 12s with very little to differentiate except for crashes. Even the rail features tended to get the same 2 on 2 off and combos of various 4s in and out. Not a thriller and largely a result of the course.
Alex Hall again started things off but this time, he went far too big on jump two. Oystein had said in his run one interview that speed was improving, and Alex demonstrated that immediately. Christian Nummedal crashed, Alex Bellemare seemed to improve on his first run but got a worse score than his first. Goepper stepped it up on the rails for run two with a switch 270 pretz 630 on the high flat rail feature, which was crazy. That score took him to the top of the pile with a 93.0. Jesper was on a tear again but knuckled the final jump which was kind of gutting, because he had a really cool take on the course.
Bobby Brown got the exact same score as run 1, ABM had an insanely smooth rail section but went down on the first jump narrowly under-rotating and couldn't rescue it on the fairly flat landing. Evan McEachran was very smooth indeed on his second run to bump his score to 86.6. Joss Christensen tidied things the fuck up and went enormous, on a run that was otherwise fairly standard for 3rd place out of nowhere. McRae put his run down pretty clean too for 5th. Ragettli definitely improved his first run by some margin, switch dub misty was stomped but a switch 2 continuing 2 on the axe let him down, still bumped his score by a couple of points. Woodsy cleaned his run way up with a massive dub 10 up top and the trademark switch dub overtweaked octo at the bottom for 94.66. Henrik somehow had enough speed to do a nosebutter dub but he had problems up top. Not a top 8 run. Oystein cleaned it up a little on run two, and his already solid score meant it felt borderline as to whether he bumped Evan McEachran for the bubble spot. He got a 90.33 though so went through with ease. Jossi brought the style to a new level with a switch 2 continuing 2, landing looking back and staring down the follow cam guy, he chucked his score away with a zero on the final jump but won the cool comp.
To watch the Top 3 Runs: Click Here
It's hard to say what the finals will look like with all the skiers somewhat limited on what they can throw. Woodsy put it best, saying that with each run the guys are essentially rolling the dice but it'll be an interesting show tomorrow for sure.