Aaron Blunck checks in from Aspen with X Games predictions, Super Bowl picks and more

Aaron Blunck checks in from Aspen with X Games predictions, Super Bowl picks and more

The 2015 Winter X Games have arrived, and the best slopestyle, pipe and big air skiers in the world have converged upon Aspen for the biggest competition in the sport. Currently training for superpipe elimination on Friday evening, Aaron Blunck caught up with us from Aspen to talk about his recovery from injury, interest in slopestyle and his Super Bowl picks.


Hey Aaron, how’s the back holding up?

The back is feeling alright. I took about a week and a half off from skiing before I came to Aspen. Right before X Games I got back on snow, just cruising groomers then came here. Last night was our first night of training, I did some tricks and it was holding up alright, it’s still pretty painful, but I think I’ll be able to push through it.

Glad to hear that you should be good to go. How’s the pipe looking this year?

The pipe is all-time. It was a bit warm last night so it was kind of bumpy from the snowboarders who came before us. But, other than that, the pipe is perfect as always, and it looks like the slope and big air courses are super sick as well. Should be a fun weekend.

Speaking of slopestyle, what do you think of the setup and who do you see as the favorites going into the competition?

The setup is looking really good, from what I’ve seen in pictures. The last couple of jumps look really good, the landing is a bit skinny on the last jump, but it looks really good overall. I would say the favorite for the guys would be Gus Kenworthy, he’s skiing really well coming off of that Dew Tour win. He’s got some confidence going into the slope competition, for sure. McRae Williams has been skiing really well and also Øystein Bråten has been training and skiing really hard. It’ll be interesting to see. Bobby [Brown] has been training really hard as well, I’ve seen him working on some new stuff, so I think he could get up there on the podium for sure.

I’d say for the girls, Devin Logan is always skiing really well and then Julia Krass has been killing it all year. From what I saw at Breckenridge last week, she’s been skiing really well. I’d say Dara Howell has a great shot, too.

You really enjoy skiing slope, but because of your success in the pipe, you often get pigeon holed as just a pipe skier. What’s that about?

I love skiing slope and I’ve tried to compete in as many slopestyle events as possible, but a lot of times it’s pretty hard to participate because the pipe coaches are like, “I think you should lean more towards pipe, you have better results in the pipe.” I agree with them, but at the same time I really want to get into slope. Growing up I always enjoyed being a slopestyle athlete more than being a pipe athlete. I’ve been trying to talk some of the coaches into getting me into some of the slopestyle events at the Grand Prix, but it’s such a hard field because so many kids are doing it, compared to pipe. It’s a hard thing to get into, but hopefully it’ll happen for me soon.

Coaching is a big part of your competition experience, what’s it mean to have that support behind you from your coaches?

The support from the coaches is one of the biggest advantages you can have. Even if you’re up top and you don’t need help it’s always nice having them supporting you. They can be like, “hey, what’re you working on? Let’s work up to something.” So especially coming off of an injury it’s nice to have them there because you know that they’re there for you as you’re battling through injuries. They keep your head on straight and keep you going.

Moving on to the actual pipe competition, what’s it going to take to dethrone three-time defending champion David Wise?

From watching previous events, the judges are really favoring amplitude right now and I also think style is big, too. Using a combination of style and amplitude will give you a good shot to beat Dave.

Besides yourself (duh!) and Wise, who else do you think could stand on the podium?

Torin [Yater-Wallace] is always looking good. Then there’s Byron [Wells], he’s been on a mission the past few days, just seeing his Instagram videos and clips on Facebook. He’s riding really well, I think he’s one guy to watch for sure. And then, Alex Ferreira and Lyman Currier are always skiing really well, too.

I know you’re recovering from this back injury, but do you have any new tricks dialed for X?

I’ve been thinking about new runs and new tricks, and I started working towards [those goals] but then injured my back. So, I wasn’t able to work on some of the new tricks I wanted to, but I think we’ve got a lot of training this week so I’m hoping I can get some stuff dialed in this time. If not, I’ll probably go with the same run I did at Grand Prix and Dew Tour, but just go a bit bigger on it.

What’s your favorite part about X Games?

I would say that my favorite part is the atmosphere around the X Games. It’s kind of the mecca of our sport, this is what everyone looks to as little kids, making it to X Games. Just making it here every year is the best part about it, because everyone’s so stoked. It doesn’t feel like it’s a competition, you’re out having fun at the biggest event of the year.

Seahawks or Patriots?

I’m a big Marshawn Lynch fan, but I have a feeling that if I were to say the Seahawks, a lot of my buddies would be pretty mad at me. Mostly, Thacher Stone and Jake Largess, but I’m going to have go with the Seahawks.

Related: This is 2015 Winter X Games by the numbers

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