X Games Real Ski is like christmas come early(/late/again) for skiers everywhere. Six of the craziest street edits of all time drop at once for our viewing pleasure. This year it took multiple watches to even begin to comprehend what these guys had managed to put together in the very short filming window. Judging this thing must have been a nightmare. We spoke to Ahmet Dadali, one panel member, a few days ago about the process. The other guys faced with making the call were Josh Berman, Vincent Gagnier, Jeff Schmuck and our very own EHeath, who I've asked to weigh in now that the results are out and shed some more light on how the judges reached their decision.
Without further ado, I give you the deserved winner...
Gold: Magnus Graner
If there was one skier you never thought you'd see with an X Games gold hanging round his neck... Magnus redefined what's possible in the streets with this insane cut that had me asking "what the fuck?" with pretty much every trick. There's bound to be hate from some corners on this decision but for me, the nollie on from flat on was worth it alone.
EHeath: Picking the number one spot took some serious time and Magnus' video was more subtly insane than others. Videos like LJ and Henrik's seem to have more of a wow factor, but after watching Magnus' video a few more times, every trick he does is mind blowing. In the end, it was the smooth style and technicality, combined with doing tricks we've never seen before on some pretty big features that really stuck out in the judging.
Silver: Henrik Harlaut
In second place, it's the man, the myth, the living legend: Henrik Harlaut. He has it all, traditional comp wins, backcountry jump game and of course, insane street skills. On first viewing this was the winner for me, it was only after really breaking down the edits that Magnus came more to the fore.
EHeath: For me, 1 and 2 in this contest were basically interchangeable. Henrik created an amazing video that also had tricks we had never seen before. Henrik nailed the style and creativity of the contest, but maybe he just slightly lacked a little bit on the overall production and didn't hit as many large features as other skiers. Overall, his video was fucking amazing, but after much discussion, just fell below Magnus in our judging.
Bronze: LJ Strenio
In third was LJ Strenio. LJ certainly had some of the most insane stunts and the most death defying spots in the contest but had to settle for bronze and I can see why. Sure he did things that should be impossible on skis and the 28 minute video of all his attempts really drives home how much work what he pulled off truly was. Yet at the same time you can't say there weren't also things you'd expect to see in many street segments today. That isn't to detract from my respect for LJ for what he put out though, how he puts himself through the pain of those kinked rails I will never understand. He's an all time legend.
EHeath: What do we even have to say here? LJ pushed the envelope of urban skiing, period. Why didn't he win? This might be the toughest question to answer, but it came down to style and features. LJ by far did some of the most insane shit I've ever seen on skis, but he had a few features which fell short in comparison to most of the skiers. But, he earned 3rd in our mind because of his insane level of creativity and absolute domination of huge urban features.