Norwegian wins ski slopestyle gold
Vail, CO Colorado
ASPEN, Colorado ” A pair of oversized white sunglasses and a coif of dirty-blond hair concealed Jossi Wells’ face, but he do little to mask his nervous energy as he stared uphill.
The 17-year-old Kiwi paced in the finish area, fumbled with his skis and flashed a grin as he watched fellow competitors in Sunday’s men’s skiing slopestyle final try and fail to bump him out of gold medal position. His score of 90 on a near-flawless first run looked like it would hold up.
Then, a Norwegian stole the show ” and the gold.
Andreas Hatveit, the top qualifier and last competitor, erased all memories of a seventh-place finish in 2007 and a fall on his first run with an immaculate second attempt. The effort was awarded with a score of 94.
Wells settled for silver ” the first Winter X Games medal for an athlete from New Zealand ” and perennial third-place finisher Jon Olsson took the bronze.
“I finally laid down the run I wanted,” Hatveit said. “I’m super stoked. … I’ve been dreaming about this since I was 13.”
The 21-year-old helped further cement Norway’s dominance at Winter X Games 12. Fellow countrymen Andreas Wiig and Torstein Horgmo won the snowboarding slopestyle and big air events, respectively, Saturday.
It wasn’t easy, especially after Hatveit tried ” and failed ” to land the weekend’s first 1440 (four full rotations) in run No. 1.
“I saw Joss’ run, and I told myself ‘I’ve got to throw down,'” Hatveit said. “It came down to that first box. If I got it, I was going to go 9 (off the final hit). I came off (the box) a bit early, so I had to huck it. … I hucked too hard and couldn’t land it.
” It was so nerve-wracking. I was falling apart. … Instead of sitting in the tent and watching the other runs, I was walking around to try and stay loose and trying to think of something else.”
That strategy, coupled with the decision to lay down one of his well-rehearsed training runs, worked to near perfection. Hatveit slid off the opening box early once more, but rebounded quickly with a flip off the Up-box and a right switch 1080 over the gap jump. The run was punctuated by a 1280 off the “money booter.”
Seconds after stomping the landing, Hatveit raised both arms in triumph. Wells flashed a smile.
“I didn’t want him to fall, but I didn’t want him to beat me,” Wells joked. “I felt nervous when he was coming down the course. I wanted to win, but it was his day today.”
Wells, the third competitor to tackle the revamped Buttermilk slopestyle course, opened with a 450 onto the box and a misty 450. The middle of his run featured a clean switch rightside 1080 with a tail grab and back-to-back 900s. He finished with a switch 1080.
The next 16 runs did not produce a score better than Wells’ 90. The 17th, however, bumped Wells, skiing slopestyle’s youngest medalist ever, into second.
“I came last year and annihilated myself, and I didn’t ski as well as I wanted to in pipe,” said Wells. In his first X Games appearance in 2007, Wells took a fall in pipe training and broke his collar bone in four places. “I’m stoked on this. … Maybe next year I can get one that’s gold instead of silver.”
Olsson may shoot for silver instead of bronze next season. The 25-year-old Swede has finished third a Winter X record seven times, including five in slopestyle. The consolation? He tied Tanner Hall for the most skiing medals with 10.
“I’ve seen this one before,” Olsson joked, raising his medal. “It was weird getting gold the other night (in skiing big air), so I went back.
“It would’ve been better to win, but I didn’t deserve it.”