Ski action at the 2020 Winter X Games kicked off today with the Men’s Big Air Qualifications. With creative tricks and consistent stomps, Elias Syrjä and Antoine Adelisse led the pack, while Henrik Harlaut and Alex Hall dueled for the fifth and final qualifying spot on their last hits.
The X Games switched up the qualifying format this year: rather than judging jumps with a score, riders were instead judged on a vague “overall impression,” with their names sliding up and down the rankings after each jump at the judges’ whim. What the new format gains in simplicity, it certainly loses in transparency, as riders didn’t have the opportunity to see scores for each trick, letting them know which ones might be improved upon.
The nine skiers in the qualifier were given 25 minutes, equating to four jumps each, to impress the judges and secure one of five open finals spots. Last year’s medalists Birk Ruud, Alex Beaulieau-Marchand and Evan McEachran are pre-qualified for the finals, and got to sit back and watch the show today.
The jam got off to a slightly monotonous start, as seven out of nine skiers tossed a double cork 16 variation on their first hit. Only Antoine Adelisse and Henrik Harlaut bucked the trend, the former with a pre-nose grab switch double cork 10, the latter with his signature switch triple flat 12 mute, coming up just a bit short.
Things quickly got more interesting as riders looked to set themselves apart. Syrjä stomped his own switch triple 12 mute, poking the grab all the way out into screamin’ seamen, while Adelisse blasted a huge forward triple 16 mute. Fabian Bösch also unpacked his own forward trip 16 safety, stomping like a beast halfway down the landing, while Harlaut showed his versatility with a dub bio 14 safety.
By the third round of jumps a picture of the leaderboard began to emerge, with Syrjä and Adelisse on top and the rest fighting for placement. Teal Harle had himself a bad day, trying and failing three times to land his forward double cork 16 japan. Alex Hall also didn’t have it easy: he landed a few of his best tricks with the seatbelt japan + stale combo grab that’s won him a lot of contests until now. But the judges seemed to have tired of its novelty, leaving him behind in the lower rankings.
Meanwhile, Syrjä and Adelisse kept blasting out the tricks: Elias with a pre-grab triple cork 1080 safety, then an amazing switch triple 14 double mute, while Antoine followed up with a switch triple 12 and a switch dub 14 safety to tail. Behind them, Christian Nummedal crept up the rankings into third with the help of a big forward triple 16 safety on his final hit, while Andri Ragettli’s consistency with four stomped tricks ushered him into fourth place.
With no time remaining on the clock, only Alex Hall and Henrik Harlaut remained in the start gate—Henrik in the coveted fifth spot, and A-Hall in sixth looking to break in. Seemingly a bit flummoxed at the judges’ reaction to his earlier tricks, Alex opted not for a huge spin, but in fact the opposite: a cork 180, trying to swing the “overall impression” into his favor. The deal was sealed, though, when Henrik followed him and stomped a clean double bio 16 safety, as if to say: not today, Junior.
The X Games Big Air final goes down tomorrow, as well as men’s slopestyle and halfpipe eliminations. If you don’t mind paying to watch, all the contests are viewable live with the ESPN Player. Or you can save your hard-earned money and catch the replay here on Downdays!
Men's Big Air Eliminations Results | Winter X Games 2020