Mark McMorris repeats in Slopestyle
ASPEN, Colo. -- Mark McMorris spent months preparing to battle Shaun White in Jeep Snowboard Slopestyle at X Games Aspen 2013, but as it turned out, not even White, a five-time gold medalist in the event, was up to challenging McMorris.
The 19-year-old Canadian defended his 2012 gold medal in superlative fashion, posting the day's top two scores and winning with his third-run 98.00, the highest score in Slopestyle history. That run placed an exclamation point on a competition in which three competitors landed triple corks, a first for the Slopestyle discipline.
White fell on his final two runs after landing the first triple of the day in his first run. He settled for fifth place.
"It's definitely a relief," McMorris said.
He added of White: "He's got all the tricks; he's just getting back into it. I felt really solid about my riding. I'm just glad it all worked out and everybody stayed safe. I landed a run I don't think I've ever done, really."
Much like last year's X Games Aspen SuperPipe final, when White earned the first 100-point score in SuperPipe or Slopestyle history, McMorris raised the bar when he could have coasted down the course on a victory lap. He added a difficult cab double cork 1260 to his final run, which bumped his score from 94.66 to 98.00.
White made a point of waiting around the finish corral to congratulate McMorris before leaving the venue, which saw a record crowd of 47,200 on Saturday.
"I'm going to let this soak in and hopefully turn it into a motivator," said White, who hopes to challenge McMorris for the 2014 Olympic gold medal when Slopestyle debuts in Sochi, Russia.
Another Canadian, X Games rookie Max Parrot, earned silver with a triple cork of his own, and Belgium's Seppe Smits claimed bronze.
Clark three-peats, edges Hight
The elite women of competitive SuperPipe riding unleashed a historic air show under the lights, producing not only a rookie on the podium and a trick that never had been landed in competition, but also the discipline's first three-peat as Kelly Clark successfully defended her title.
Last year's silver medalist, Elena Hight, set the bar early at the Women's Snowboarding SuperPipe final, dialing in a backside 900 high on the hill before unleashing a double alley-oop rodeo on the last wall of her run.
The trick never had been landed in competition, by a woman or a man.
"That's what I came here to do, so I thought I'd just throw it," Hight said after her history-making run.
Hight's score of 90 points held strong throughout the competition until two-time defending gold medalist Clark -- spinning a frontside 1080 out of the gate, straight into a cab 720 -- delivered a more technically difficult run on her final attempt to upset Hight by just three-tenths of a point.
The victory earned the 29-year-old Olympian the discipline's first three-peat and a 10th X Games medal.
The night was also a boon for alternate Arielle Gold, who replaced an injured Gretchen Bleiler.
With a solid 900 up high, the 16-year-old X Games rookie capped her run with a cab 900 to lock down the bronze.
Harlaut notches 50, wins Big Air gold
Everyone expected to see history made in the Ski Big Air final, where a handful of competitors promised to land the first triple corks in X Games history. But no one could have imagined the trick Henrik Harlaut used to clinch the gold medal.
The 21-year-old master of style from Åre, Sweden, landed an unprecedented nose butter triple cork 1620 for a perfect 50-point score.
Harlaut never had tried the trick before Saturday. Combined with his trademark nose butter double cork 1260s, he finished with 97 points, six higher than runner-up Kai Mahler of Switzerland.
"I had that trick in my mind for the past month but wasn't really planning on trying it unless I had to," Harlaut said. "Tanner Hall, Taylor Seaton and Vincent Gagnier were up there (at the top of the course), and they motivated me. Tanner was like, 'Yo dog, you gotta make history, let's do it.'"
Entering the competition, Harlaut was one of the few skiers who was not expected to try a triple cork, and he may have been able to win without it. But after Gus Kenworthy landed his patented switch triple rodeo Japan to kick off the triple barrage in Heat 1, and Elias Ambühl, Bobby Brown and Mahler followed up with triple cork 1440s, Harlaut decided to throw the trick.
Compared to last year's Big Air jump, Brown said, "It's in a different spot, so it's bigger and with more speed and a little more step over, which is really nice."
Anderson wins second straight gold
Riding in her ninth X Games, Jamie Anderson scored her second straight Jeep Snowboard Slopestyle gold medal with a commanding lead from the outset.
"I just wanted to put down a solid run and do my best," she said about her first of three runs, an even 93 that was enough to hold off the rest of the pack for the duration of the contest. "I'm just so thankful to be here. I'm really inspired to learn more new tricks and have better style and enjoy the journey."
Spotted in the trees meditating before the event, the 22-year-old Anderson laid down the contest's first complete run -- highlighted by a big cab 720 -- as previous riders struggled with small wipeouts and skipped jumps in the "financial district" succession of big kickers.
The gold medal is the fifth in Anderson's slopestyle collection.
How does she stay calm with the target on her back?
"I hug trees," Anderson said.
Just behind Anderson, winning her first X Games medal, was 22-year-old Czech rider Sarka Pancochova, who took home the silver after a critical final run -- capped with a solid backside 720 -- that skyrocketed her from eighth place.
"I knew I could do well with that run and I just went for it," she said. "I'm pretty excited about that."
Pancochova's performance bumped Spencer O'Brien, a 24-year-old Canadian, from second to third. O'Brien won the silver and bronze in 2009 and 2008, respectively.
LaVallee collects another gold
Claiming his second gold medal in as many events, Levi LaVallee outpaced and outstyled Cory Davis for all three laps in the Snowmobile Speed & Style Final.
Davis had posted the fastest qualifying race and was expected to score heavily in that respect, but LaVallee took the lead through the first corner and never looked back.
"It's great," LaVallee said. "I just tried to get on the course as fast as I could and just remember to do my tricks big, and it worked out. Cory was all over me. Hat's off to Cory for just charging the whole time."
LaVallee maintained a solid spread throughout the race and landed harder tricks -- such as a kiss-of-death flip and a cordova flip -- through the jump sections. His combined score of 90.95 beat Davis' 85.66.
Davis adds his silver medal to a pair of Speed & Style bronze medals, from 2009 and '11. His shot Saturday for gold came with an upset over two-time and defending Speed & Style gold medalist Joe Parsons in the semifinals.
Coming into a turn a bit too hot, Parsons high-sided over the berm, dumping his sled and opening a door to the final for Davis.
In the race for bronze, Parsons and Willie Elam aggressively tangled up their handlebars through Turn 1, forcing both riders off course and wide around the first jump set.
Race officials flew the red flag, and the two racers lined up for a restart, which produced another tangle around Turn 1 as both riders again lost control and rode off the course.
With this second red flag, Parsons drew a penalty, and was relegated to the back row for the race's third start.
To make up for the time deficit, Parsons needed to quickly unleash his highest scoring tricks, and even with a five-second differential on the third and final lap, he edged past Elam to claim his 11th X Games snowmobile medal.
XGames.com's Devon O'Neil and Keith Hamm contributed to this report.