As the men’s superpipe skiing event unfolded Friday evening at X Games Aspen 2017, it began to take on the feel of a schoolyard “next score wins” basketball game, and it was Aaron Blunck who hit the game-winner to claim his first X Games gold medal.
A 2014 Olympian who placed seventh in Sochi, Blunck was one of only two skiers who surpassed 80 points Friday, soaring to an 84.66 on his second run to claim the victory. Miguel Porteous of New Zealand grabbed the silver with his 81.00, while Canada’s Noah Bowman snagged the bronze with a first-run score of 71.00.
Every athlete encountered problems in the pipe on either one or both runs. With notables like defending X Games Aspen gold medalist Kevin Rolland and 2014 Olympic gold medalist David Wise falling twice, the contest was wide open and Blunck was the last man standing.
A native of Crested Butte, Colorado, Blunck was the bronze medalist at the Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games and has racked up six career world cup podiums, including a pair of wins, the most recent coming last February in Park City, Utah.
2016 Youth Olympic champion Birk Irving finished fourth with 68.33 points, while Broby Leeds was seventh with a best of 34.33. Olympic slopestyle silver medalist Gus Kenworthy ranked 10th with a 29.00, while Wise placed 11th after mustering only 28.66 points.
Earlier in the evening, Maddie Bowman scored a bronze in women’s superpipe, her seventh X Games medal. The returning champion from X Games Aspen 2016 tacked up 86.00 points on her first run to slot into second behind France’s Marie Martinod, whose first run 89.33 was enough to win. Ayana Onozuka of Japan slipped past Bowman with an 87.00 on her final run to take silver.
Olympic champion Bowman led a group of four Americans who finished third through sixth: Devin Logan was fourth with an 80.33, while Brita Sigourney was fifth at 69.00 points and Annalisa Drew’s 65.66 was good for sixth.