Words & photos by John Vandervalk
Winter X Games 14 in Aspen, Colorado has officially begun. The festivities began tonight with Women's Superpipe Prelims, and the ladies put on quite the show to kick off the biggest action sports event of the winter.
Calgary's very own young gun Megan Gunning came out of the gate fired up and ready to charge at her inaugural X Games by throwing down a smooth 9 complimented by a cork 7 mute near the end of her run. Gunning's run was as clean as a whistle and in the process of shocking the rest of the field was rewarded accordingly by the judges by scoring a 90 that no one else could touch on the first set of runs...until she bested her own score on her second trip down the perfectly crafted pipe with a 91.66.
Jen Hudak did a safety run on her initial crack at it with a few 5's and a 7 to get herself qualified for the big show, and then on her second go around threw down a first hit 9 along with some rock solid grabs on her 5's which was more than good enough for second place.
Rosalind Groenewoud was amped as always to compete, and showed her love for air time by boosting 14 feet out on the first hit. And although she intended to throw a 9 in the midst of her run, she washed out a bit during one of her landings but still skied smoothly enough to score third place.
Anais Caradeux was solid as always and will be looking to boost a bit higher in Friday night's finals with the quiver of spins she hides in her tool kit.
Switzerland's Mirjam Jaeger was technical throughout her run as always and landed everything clean but is also hoping to add a bit more amplitude in order to find herself on the podium once again.
And when talking about a women's pipe contest, you can never count out the queen bee herself, Sarah Burke, who is looking for her fourth straight gold medal but barely qualified tonight by just edging out Grete Eliassen. Burke back seated a 5 on the first run but bounced backed on her second by throwing a 9 on the first hit with a cork 7 at the bottom. Look for her to step it up on Friday as always and bring the game to a whole new level.
1) Megan Gunning - 91.66
2) Jen Hudak - 88.00
3) Rosalind Groenewoud - 83.33
4) Anais Caradeux - 79.66
5) Mirjam Jaeger - 79.00
6) Sarah Burke - 76.33
7) Grete Eliassen - 74.66
8) Virginie Faivre - 72.00
9) Dania Assaly - 59.66
10) Amy Sheehan - 37.66
11) Keltie Hansen - 20.00
Stay tuned for daily coverage on Winter X Games 14, which continues tomorrow with the sure to be exciting and intense Men's Slopestyle Prelims and Women's Slopestyle Finals.