Last night, under the lights on Aspen’s Buttermilk Mountain, David Wise topped the field, earning his third straight gold here at X Games Aspen, becoming the first to match the feat first accomplished by Tanner Hall between 2006 and 2008. Frenchman Kevin Rolland finished second, and X Games rookie and Aspen’s own Alex Ferreira skied his way to a bronze medal, much to the delight of the local fans.
In the case of Ferreira, he went down on his first two runs—both times on his final hit. In both instances, Ferreira more or less ran out of pipe to work with; that is to say, he was attempting to land his left 900 tail at the absolute bottom of the pipe, where the walls begin to lose both height and vert.
“I fell on my first run,” Alex said. “I usually land my first one, so it was really weird for me. I was super stressed, and on the second one I went down too, and I was like, ‘Oh my god.’ There were so many nerves going through my body. On the third one, I said ‘Alright, I’m just gonna go ski, I’m gonna ski for me and I’m just gonna ski for fun.'”
It seemed to have worked. Ferreira completed a run that included a left 1080, switch right 7 mute, dub 12, down the pipe double flatspin and a lofty 900 to close.
“The crowd was amazing,” Ferreira explained. “All my best friends, all my family came out. It was so awesome to see them all there.”
Alex Ferreira, third place run, 2014 X Games Aspen
En route to his silver medal, Rolland put the following run to his feet: double 10, right 7 mute, double cork 12 mute, alley-oop flat 360 and a switch double 10 mute to close. It was his second of three runs. On his third run, Rolland seemed to up the amplitude throughout the run, and was thereby looking to bag a solid score, but he was unable to hang on to the switch double 10.
In a press conference following the contest, Rolland referred to the level of competition as “crazy,” and despite being happy to have earned a podium result, Rolland admits he’s always gunning for gold.
Kevin Rolland, silver medal run, 2014 X Games Aspen
Speaking now to Mr. Wise: David bagged a score of 90.00 on his first run of the night, and when he was presented with a victory lap later in the evening, he didn’t back down, improving to a score of 92.00. Wise’s run consisted of a switch right 900 tail, a gargantuan switch left double 1080 Japan, a right double cork 12 mute, a left double cork 12 mute, and an alley-oop flat 540 octo to close.
“That’s a run I’ve been working on for a long time,” David told us. “I wanted to get that switch right 9 combo into the switch dub, into the back-to-back dub corks. I was doing it at Euro X last year, but the pipe was a bit short to end with the flat 5, so, that was my goal, I was stoked to put it down.”
Wise also spoke to the hectic nature of this Olympic season; many of these competitors only recently wrapped up a five-week-long Olympic qualifying period, with five total contests going down between Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and Park City, UT.
“We’ve had a lot more contests this year than we usually do,” Wise explained. “This X Games, and in particular qualifiers the other night, it was one of the most heated ever… everyone has had so much time to work on their runs.”
Although X is not an Olympic qualifier, Wise explains the importance of this perennial show.
“Huge shout out to X Games,” David said in a press conference on Wednesday. “It was X that [gave] our sport the respect it needed to get into the Olympics.”
And last night, Wise noted: “I’ve been asked a lot about if I was going to skip X Games [this year, to avoid risking injury prior to the Olympics]. I honestly didn’t even, ever think of it. X Games is an amazing event. It’s an awesome opportunity to get under the lights and to ski in front of a big crowd and get those contest nerves out. It’s always one of my favorite contests of the year.”
David Wise, gold medal run, 2014 X Games Aspen
Among other noteworthy items on the evening: Mike Riddle was ever-so-close to securing his first-ever X Games medal. Given Riddle’s strong presence on the competition circuit over the last few years, it’s strange to think X hardware has continued to elude him. “Riddle must have an X medal, right?” Riddle’s display of skiing last night was outstanding; his switch double 9 is a thing of beauty.
Kenworthy’s performance also stood out among the rest. While he went down on each of his three drops, he was piecing together a run that would certainly have made a bid for a podium spot. Currier was mighty close to banking a great score, as well, on his third run, but he went down on his final hit—a right 10.
Also worth mentioning: Justin Dorey decked out on each of his runs. In the first two spins through the pipe, he decked on his first hit—a right double cork 12. Opting to avoid the same end on his third go-round, he switched up his run, but unfortunately, decked out on the left double 12, instead. Uncharacteristic. Unfortunate. Dorey was bleeding from his mouth after the third mishap.
Results, 2014 X Games Aspen superpipe:
1. David Wise — 92.00
2. Kevin Rolland — 88.66
3. Alex Ferreira — 85.33
4. Mike Riddle — 84.33
5. Ben Valentin — 81.00
6. Lyman Currier — 77.33
7. Gus Kenworthy — 34.44
8. Justin Dorey — 19.66