The 2016 Winter X Games was, put simply, full of surprises. But that's the best kind – a competition we can marvel at when we realise the world of snow sports doesn't revolve around the same athletes after all.
There were, of course, the ones that didn't surprise us at all. Mark McMorris has been consistent for the last few years, always impressing judges with technical moves. After winning silver in Snowboard Big Air, he won the gold in Snowboard Slopestyle. While most struggled to put down clean runs in the stormy conditions, he made speed adjustments and his best run consisted of a frontside triple 1440 into a backside triple 1440. He's now won eight X Games medals. In his admission that “the level of riding was higher”, it confirms the reason for so many unexpected wins and losses this year.
Sebastien Toutant snagged the silver - there's no other rider who has good days and bad days quite like him. Unknown Norwegian Mons Roiland won the bronze. Notice another Norweigan missing from this story? Ståle Sandbech shocked everyone by not making the podium.
Max Parrot is already having a stellar start this season, and it got better when he won Big Air. He and McMorris have been alternating wins at this event since 2014, but Parrot’s run was slightly more technical and cleaner. Yuki Kadono took the bronze – he's been making a name for himself in Big Air events for the last 13 months. Again, Sandbech didn't place, which is just mind-boggling for anyone who's been paying attention to his previous successes.
New Zealand hasn't had an X Games gold since 1997, so Jossi Wells took care of that by winning Ski Slopestyle. His run consisted of a rightside double-cork 1080, a huge switch trick for the final hit, grab while rolling twice and spinning 1440 degrees. Gus Kenworthy’s consistently good runs got him his second silver of the meet, after Halfpipe on Thursday. While flawless, Wells was slightly more technical this time. Oystein Braaten, a name we hear often, got his first X Games medal, a bronze. We’re expecting bigger things from this young’un in the coming years. Joss Christensen didn't place, despite being a crowd favorite going in.
The Ski Halfpipe is proving to be a French thing, with French athletes making the podium in recent events and Kevin Rolland getting the gold again. 20 foot double cork airs were too good for the rest, Kenworthy happily took the silver.
In Ski Big Air, Fabian Bosch had a narrow one point win (86.00) over Bobby Brown (96.00). It really could've gone either way. Elias Ambühl came in 3rd.
Scores were lower than ever before in the Snowboard Superpipe because of the one-run format due to bad weather. Matt Ladley, someone we’ve only just begun hearing about, took the gold sporting a Manning jersey (alriiight, a Manning fan!). Ben Ferguson took the silver, though most had expected him to get the gold. No doubt he'll continue his success this season. Scotty James reminded everyone he's still capable of placing, coming third.
In short: a few consistent performers and several unexpected winners!