JF Houle Wins European X Games Slopestyle
Gold medalist JF Houle
L-R: Andreas Håtveit, JF Houle, James Woods
The oldest competitor in slopestyle finals today took home the big W despite snowy and windy and flat light conditions. JF Houle earned his first ever X Games medal today in Tignes, France. The Quebec native — and yesterday's top qualifier — put it down on his first run of the day, holding out against the entire competition. Andreas Håtveit, no stranger to the X Games podium, took home the silver today while another X Games newcomer, James Woods, took the bronze. The top three runs:
JF Houle – Again JF started off with a nose butter 180 to switch 270 to 270 out on the flat-down box. He switched things up by dropping a rodeo 720 on the first jump into a 450 on 270 off the flat-down rail. 180 over the snow gap to switch 270 on 270 out on the down box. Here he brought the double cork 1080 to right 900 jump combination. Watch JF's run here.
Andreas Håtveit – Andreas started with a switch right 450 on the flat-down box then he put down a rightside 900 on the first jump. On the second rail Andreas did a switch 180 off one take off, a 180 up next to the rail, then switch tails over onto the down portion of the flat-down. Again, he transferred from one takeoff to the down box of the flat to gap down box. Andreas then brought out the rightside 1080 and leftside double cork 1080. Watch Andreas' run here.
James Woods - Woodsy started off with a 450 on 270 off the flat-down box, then a leftside 900 followed. He brought the switch 450 onto the mid-run flat-down rail. On the flat to gap down he put down a front 360 switchup. That gave way to his double cork 1260 to switch 720. Watch James' run here.
Silver medalist Andreas Håtveit
Just missing out on his second consecutive podium was Russ Henshaw. Despite the rightside double cork 1260 to switch 1080 combo in his pocket, Russ fell short of the podium. Russ failed to stomp his right double cork 1260 his last two runs, ending his bid at a medal. Phil Casabon ended up fifth with a number of unorthodox moves which included a nose butter switch 270 to 270 on the down rail, lazy boy 180 on the first jump and a switch 900 truck on the second jump. Casabon has yet to win X Games hardware, but his stylish riding keeps him in the hunt every year.
Alex Schlopy – double cork 1260
Alex Schlopy couldn't quite get all the ingredients to work for him in one run, but he managed to drop a few jaws in the process. With speed seemingly impossible to find for these medium sized jumps, Alex unleashed a double cork 1620 to switch 1080 combination his second run. Unfortunately his rails that run were a little off and when he corrected them his third run, he couldn't quite cleanly land the next double cork 1620.
Gus Kenworthy was in his first Euro X finals and he made the most of it with tricks like switch misty 900s, double cork 1260s and switch right 1080s. Young Kenworthy would love to take some of his runs back, and he'll no doubt get many chances to come in his auspicious looking career. And the man the X Games hyped to beat, Bobby Brown rounded out the pack, unable to land a clean run all day. Twice Brown fell on his rightside double cork 1080 and another he had some rail hang ups, despite landing back-to-back double cork 1080s. Bobby put it all on the line today and sometimes the luck isn't on your side.
Bobby Brown – misty 720
As the day went on, the snow fell harder and harder, making adequate speed a rarity on the course today. The entire third run of finals was marred by the knuckle of the first jump. Big props must be given to all the competitors for throwing down in such horrendous weather. A huge thanks must be given to the park and event staff here for making the course as fast as humanly possible given the conditions.
Bronze medalist James Woods
With slopestyle over, the only event that remains at Euro X is the Women's Superpipe Finals tomorrow afternoon. Can Sarah Burke repeat X Games gold success? Despite two major hurdles being brought down due to injury (Jen Hudak and Brita Sigourney; possibly Devin Logan), she will have her work cut out for her as she faces Roz Groenewoud and a pack of girls hungry for the podium. Stay tuned.
2 Andreas Håtveit — 92.33
3 James Woods — 89.66
4 Russ Henshaw — 88.33
5 Phil Casabon — 80.66
6 Alex Schlopy — 77.33
7 Gus Kenworthy — 76.00
8 Bobby Brown — 65.00
Crowning two new medalists and one podium-savvy competitor will likely have repercussions on the AFP Slopestyle world rankings. For all that information, visit the AFP World Rankings Page.
The man of the day: JF Houle
About the author:
Shay Williams is the former Managing Editor of Freeskier Magazine. He now works full-time with Monster Energy, and continues to contribute to freeskier.com.