Norway’s upstart big air talent Birk Ruud ended up on top of the podium in the X Games Big Air tonight, upsetting big dogs like Øystein Bråten and Henrik Harlaut as well as top qualifier Evan McEachran to pick up his second X Games gold medal in four appearances.
18-year-old Ruud, who won the X Games Big Air on his home turf in Oslo last year, now holds the Aspen title as well, skiing to victory with a rightside double cork 1620 tail-to-tail grab and a switch left triple cork 1620 safety — two unique tricks that stood out in the insanely high level of this contest. He was joined on the podium by Alex Beaulieu-Marchand, who landed a switch left triple cork 1440 bow-and-arrow to octograb and a switch right triple cork 14 safety, and James Woods with a switch right triple 1440 octograb and a left triple cork 1620 safety.
In the “chocolate medal” 4th-place position was top qualifier Evan McEachran, who was bumped off the podium by Woods on his final hit. The judges were feeling McEachran’s switch left double cork 1800 tail — a monster spin that the Canadian can apparently land on demand — but didn’t rain points on his rightside trick, a triple cork 1620 safety that had scored several points higher in the qualification round.
As usual, the name of the game tonight was “taking it up a notch.” That is: taking an already insane trick, and adding an extra rotation or grab to make it that much crazier. The strategy worked well for Ruud, who added an extra 180 to his two big tricks, as well as for ABM who squeezed in an extra grab into his switch left triple. It didn’t go as smoothly for last year’s winner Henrik Harlaut, whose experiments with a japan grab to tail on his switch right double cork didn’t meet the judges’ standards. Last year’s silver medalist Bråten, apparently nursing a hip injury, also missed the podium, as did Alex Hall, whose switch left dub 14 seatbelt tail was a thing of beauty, but who didn’t nail the landing on his matching switch right 14 with a reverse mute grab.
Finally, a shout-out goes to Christian Nummedal, who stomped probably the biggest trick of the night, a massive switch triple cork 1800 mute, but took a brutal crash on his final hit and needed to be helped off the landing.
That’s a wrap on Ski Big Air at this year’s X, with Switzerland’s Mathilde Gremaud taking the win in last night’s women’s Big Air. There’s just one more final to go: the Men’s Slopestyle on Sunday at 12:00PM MST (8:00PM CET). Check our X Games Viewer’s Guide for tips on how to tune in and results from all events.
2019 X Games Men's Ski Big Air - Final Results