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Top contenders missing

Zoe Atkin takes X Games gold on a slow night in the pipe for the women

By: Matt Masson January 29, 2023

The Women’s Superpipe went down last night and the big news was that favorite, Eileen Gu, had to drop out due to an injury she suffered training for slopestyle. Defending Gold Medallist, Kelly Sildaru, also withdrew due to her also getting injured in slope training. The two former pipe champions were replaced by German Sabrina Cakmali and American Svea Irving [Birk’s sister]. That, combined with the snow that had earlier affected men’s slopestyle, meant this competition was truly wide open. Whatever happened, we had to have a brand-new women’s Superpipe gold medallist and that made for an exciting contest.

Zoe Atkin came out on top on a night when everyone had to battle the conditions.

The German alternate was the first to drop and did back-to-back 540s and got a clean run. Glennie and Irving also got through the ditch unscathed. Brit, Zoe, was next and she meant business starting with a left 5 mute and she switched up the grabs and spins in both directions. As is the way in X Games scoring these days, there are no scores, but it’d be fair to assume that Zoe was sitting pretty comfortably in top spot. Brita Sigourney, the most experienced female X Games Superpipe competitor was sixth to show her first run and went into the bronze medal position. The snow kept falling and Rachel Karker was the first to fall victim, when she fell on her switch alley-oop 540 at the bottom of the pipe. Hannah Faulhaber rounded out the opening run. While she did noticeably lose amplitude at the end of the run, she did enough to move into third.

Back to Sabrina, who did a 900 at the top of the run, but couldn’t get any amplitude at the bottom, but her run was enough to move her to 4th. Atkin started her second run with a big 540 mute, but couldn’t hold her alley-oop flatspin Japan. Thankfully she got that solid first run down, as the conditions worsened.  Zoe didn’t keep that top spot for long though as Rachel Karker snatched it away on the very next run. Her first clean run with back-to-back 9s and Flairs in both directions were enough to move ahead of the Brit and take that top spot. Aspen-local, Hannah Faulhaber, rounded off the second runs and landed a little backseat on her left 9.

Svea Irving started with a huge alley-oop flatspin at the top of her third run, got a complete run, but seemed disappointed and was only good enough to move up one place from fifth to fourth. Zoe found amplitude from somewhere but went down again on her alley-oop flatspin. Brita started her run with a huge 9, followed by alley-oops, 720s, 360s and 540s, until she crashed on her final hit, attempting a right-side 720. Karker put another clean run down, but it’s impossible for us to know if she improved on her position on top of the leaderboard.

So, we came to the fourth and final run, would anyone be able to knock Karker off the top? Well, assuming you read the headline, you know Atkin did just that. Svea Irving moved from 6th to 3rd, with a tidy run that started with an alley-oop flat 5 to a left 9. Atkin changed the colour of her medal from silver to gold, with a massive left 540 and finishing with a switch right 720. The winner gasped as she moved into the top spot. She just had to hope none of the remaining girls could improve on her run. She may have feared the worst when Karker put her run down, but the judges just moved her to one place behind Zoe to second.

The final placings were:1. Zoe Atkin 2.Rachel Karker 3. Svea Irving. Watch their runs here

Zoe celebrates on top of the podium. Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/X Games