Freeskiing competition kicked off today at the Winter X Games 2021 in Aspen, Colorado with the Women’s Ski Big Air contest, where Mathilde Gremaud made history by becoming the first female skier to land a switch double cork 1440 in competition.
Due to the constraints of the pandemic, this year’s X Games is a pared-down affair, with no spectators onsite and a limited field of athletes in each contest. With several top competitors missing from the start gate, the women’s Big Air contest also seemed more toned down than in years past. That is, until Mathilde Gremaud decided to step up and make a statement.
After using her first two jumps to dial in a beautiful switch double 1080 blunt, Gremaud took a brutal crash on her first attempt at the switch double 1440. Undeterred, she popped back up and headed back to the top, stomping the trick confidently on her second try.
With previous Big Air wins at X Games Norway in 2017 and Aspen in 2019, Gremaud now adds a third gold medal to her already considerable trophy case, and cements her reputation as one of the most tenacious competitors in Big air: she has podiumed in every X Games Big Air contest that she’s entered.
Megan Oldham took second place with the help of a huge, stomped double cork 1260 safety—one of the day’s best tricks—backed up by a switch 1080 mute. Like Gremaud, Oldham also took a vicious crash during the contest, but picked herself up and continued to ski, although she wasn’t able to land the switch 1260 she was looking for.
In her first X Games appearance, 17-year-old Eileen Gu skied to a third-place finish. Looking to land forward double corks in both directions, she put down a clean double cork 1080 japan to the left. But she couldn’t complete on her rightside double cork 1260 after several attempts, and dialed back with a cork 900 double seatbelt to get onto the podium.
Photo: Eric Lars Bakke/ESPN Images
Caroline Claire came in fourth with a switch double 900 and switch double 10, followed by Sarah Hoefflin, who, after struggling with speed, gave her all on a switch double 10 attempt but clipped the knuckle and went down hard. Isabel Atkin trailed the pack with a switch 1080 mute and a cork 900 tail.
With a limited field missing some top competitors, flat-light conditions, and an improvised Big Air setup on last jump of the slopestyle course, which seemed to provide some speed challenges, this might not have been one of the most spectacular X Games finals in memory. Even so, the women of freeskiing showed their mettle with some big, clean tricks, topped off by Mathilde Gremaud’s spectacular display of tenacity and skill. Let the Games begin!
1. Mathilde Gremaud
2. Megan Oldham
3. Eileen Gu
4. Caroline Claire
6. Isabel Atkin