X Games Aspen 2017: Automatically invited athletes
Automatically Invited Athletes
To get a coveted invite to compete at X Games is not an easy task. The selection process is rigorous and the competition fields are small. If you're one of the few athletes holding a medal from the previous year's event, however, you don't have to stress about your spot. A medal gets you an automatic invite. The first round of athletes invited to compete at X Games Aspen 2017, taking place Jan. 28-31 in Aspen, Colorado, will be announced Wednesday, November 16. While we're waiting, here's a refresher on who earned their spot this year by landing on the podium last year.
Men's Ski Slopestyle
New Zealand's Jossi Wells came into X Games Aspen 2016 having stood atop four podiums, in both Slopestyle and SuperPipe, over the course of ten years -- but never in the top position. All of that changed in Men's Ski Slopestyle last year. He will be joined in Aspen by 2016 silver and bronze medalists Gus Kenworthy and Oystein Braaten.
Women's Snowboard SuperPipe
Switch method, 1080-tail-grabbing style-master extraordinaire, Chloe Kim successfully defended her X Games Aspen 2015 gold in Women's Snowboard SuperPipe in 2016. In the process, she became the first athlete in the 45-event history of X Games to win two gold medals before turning 16. She's a tough one to beat. But 2016 silver and bronze medalists Arielle Gold and Cai Xuetong will be there, gunning for that No. 1 spot.
Men's Snowboard Slopestyle
Mark McMorris came into XG Aspen 2016 on a cloud, having won both the Snowboarder and TransWorld Magazines' coveted "Rider of the Year" crowns. Then he successfully defended his X Games Snowboard Slopestyle champion status, bringing his gold-medal total to four. He will be joined in Aspen by the man who shared his very first X Games Slopestyle podium, Sebastien Toutant, and 2016 bronze medalist, Mons Risland.
Snowmobile Freestyle returned to X Games Aspen in 2016 after a brief hiatus. The last gold-medal winner, Colten Moore, who won in 2014, was favored to win again. But Joe Parsons, pictured here, came out swinging. His signature Parsby flip, where he dismounts and remounts his seat landing backward, earned him a solid gold-medal win. He will be joined in Aspen by silver and bronze medalists Heath Frisby and Brett Turcotte.
Women's Ski Slopestyle
Thirteen-year-old Kelly Sildaru, from Estonia, made X Games history when she topped the podium in Women's Ski Slopestyle, becoming the youngest athlete ever to win a gold medal at a Winter X Games. She will be joined in Aspen by silver and bronze medalists Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen and Johanne Killi.
Men's Ski SuperPipe
After Gus Kenworthy landed five doubles, in what he claimed was one of the best X Games contest runs of his life, it was almost certain that he was headed for his first-ever X Games gold medal. He sat in first place until X Games Aspen 2014 SuperPipe silver medalist Kevin Rolland, pictured here, dropped in for his last run of the night. Rolland and Kenworthy, who finished the night in silver-medal position, will be joined in Aspen by bronze medalist Benoit Valentin.
Snowmobile SnoCross Adaptive
Mike Schultz is a three-sport X Games athlete with the most Adaptive gold medals in XG history. At X Games Aspen 2016 he beat the SnoCross Adaptive competition field by over a minute, bringing his total XG gold medal count, between Moto X Racing Adaptive and SnoCross Adaptive, to seven. He will be joined in Aspen this year by 2016 silver and bronze medalists Paul Thacker and E.J. Poplawski.
Women's Snowboard Slopestyle
Spencer O'Brien started competing in Women's Snowboard Slopestyle at X Games in 2007 but had never won a gold in the event until her switch backside 720 landed her at the top of the podium at XG Aspen 2016. She will be joined in Aspen by the legendary Jamie Anderson and the XG 2016 rookie on the come up, Hailey Langland, who finished in silver and bronze position, respectively, last year.
Men's Snowboard Big Air
The rumor coming in to X Games Aspen last year was that Max Parrot was going try to land the first quad in a Big Air competition there. Parrot was on fire during practice, but conditions turned during during the final. He didn't throw the trick, but he still rode away with the gold. He will be joined in Aspen by silver and bronze medalists Mark McMorris and Yuki Kadono.
Tucker Hibbert won his ninth consecutive SnoCross gold at X Games Aspen 2016, tying BMX Vert star Jamie Bestwick's record for most consecutive gold medals at X Games. Among the field of competitors who will be trying to stand in the way of a possible record-setting 10-peat this year are 2016 silver and bronze medalists Adam Renheim and Corin Todd.
Men's Snowboard SuperPipe
A blizzard hit Aspen just in time to wreak havoc on the Men's Snowboard SuperPipe Finals. By the second run, so much snow was falling in the pipe that competitors couldn't get enough speed to even get into it, much less do a trick. Since every competitor had gotten one run through the pipe, the event was cut short and results stood on the first-run score. Matt Ladley, sitting at the top of the leader board, came away with his first-ever X Games gold. He will be joined in Aspen by two of the other future superstars of halfpipe snowboarding, silver and bronze medalists, Ben Ferguson and Scotty James.
Men's Ski Big Air
Ski Big Air also ran in blizzard conditions. The competition was as exciting as ever, despite the fact that most of the competitors couldn't generate enough speed to hit the jump during the second half of it. In the end, Fabian Boesch landed in the gold-medal position. Colorado's Bobby Brown and Elias Ambuhl took silver and bronze, respectively, and will be joining Boesch in Aspen.
Women's Ski SuperPipe
Olympic gold medalist Maddie Bowman won her third-consecutive gold in Women's Ski SuperPipe at X Games Aspen 2016. The only other woman to three-peat in SuperPipe was the late, great Sarah Burke. Bowman will be joined in Aspen by silver and bronze medalists Ayana Onozuka and Annalisa Drew.