Love him or hate him, Andri Ragettli just put everyone on notice that he’s not going anywhere. Ragettli stomped two massive tricks—a triple cork 1980 mute and a world’s-first triple cork 1260 safety—to claim his first gold medal in X Games Big Air at Winter X Games 2021.
After a disappointing showing in Women’s Slopestyle earlier in the day, skiers were looking for a pick-me-up at the Men’s Ski Big Air contest, traditionally one of the highlights of the event. Some crazy tricks were thrown down, no doubt—but rushed judging and an incomplete athlete roster left this viewer, at least, with a sour taste in his mouth.
Andri Ragettli claimed the win with three different variations of a forward left triple cork. Photo: Matt Morning/ESPN Images
Ragettli broke out into the lead early, landing a new triple cork 1800 mute on his first hit. He stepped it up on the next run with a mind-blowing triple 12—halting his spin before 1440 to land switch—then blasted a triple cork 1980 mute for the night’s single high score of 48.
Antoine Adelisse placed second behind Ragettli, buoyed to the podium by his two signature tricks: a forward triple cork 1620 mute and a switch pre-nose triple cork 14, which he struggled to execute before nailing it on his third try.
Alex Hall skied to third place with the help of an impressive double cork 1620 nose grab and a whirlwind switch double cork 1800 Buick.
Missing the podium were Alex Beaulieu-Marchand, who unleashed a switch triple 14 octograb to octograb, and Evan McEachran with a switch double 18 tail and a forward triple cork 16 mute.
Henrik Harlaut was a notable presence missing from his accustomed environs on the podium. Harlaut kicked things off with a double bio 1620 safety before pulling out a switch bio 1800 safety—a first for him—but received an unexpectedly low score of 38 on the second trick. Looking a bit flustered, he spent the rest of the evening trying to improve that score, evidently knocked out his zone by the mishap.
ABM's switch triple 14 octo-to-octograb was one of the evening's highlights. Photo: Matt Morning/ESPN Images
The evening was a big win for Andri Ragettli with groundbreaking new tricks and a dominant performance. It also highlighted the shortcomings of this year’s X Games. I know there’s a pandemic and all, but we expect better from X. The judging system is a shambles (rushed, no clear system, made-for-TV) and there are clear problems with the athlete roster, which is apparently now determined more by energy drink sponsors than by talent.
Freeskiing competition has reached soaring levels of technical proficiency, meaning that judging contests is harder than ever. Event organizers should respect athletes and spectators by taking the time to develop and implement judging systems that work. After throwing out score-based judging last year for an opaque system based on overall impression, the X Games have one-upped themselves this year with a system that’s even worse: rushed scoring that’s frankly disrespectful to athletes. I never thought I’d be saying this, but some FIS contests (like the Big Air in Kreischberg, Austria earlier this month) are now showing higher levels of competition, and more reliable judging, than the old X Games flagship. My my, how the turn tables.
1. Andri Ragettli
2. Antoine Adelisse
3. Alex Hall
4. Alex Beaulieu-Marchand
5. Evan McEachran
6. Henrik Harlaut
7. James Woods
8. Quinn Wolferman