When the sun crept up over the eastern horizon in Aspen, Colorado today, it marked the beginning of one of the most important days to date for Canadian snowboarders Seb Toutant and Mark McMorris, and little did they know that history was in the making. On the schedule at the Winter X Games, the pinnacle event for action sports’ athletes, was Slopestyle Elimination, which was held earlier today, and Big Air Elimination and Final which are scheduled for this evening.
The top 16 Slopestyle Snowboarders on the planet descended on Buttermilk Resort this morning to compete for one of the coveted 8 spots that would move on to Sunday’s final. 17-year-old McMorris and18-year-old Toutant were the 3rd and 4th riders to drop in on the course and set the tone early for the Elimination event with strong technical runs and few mistakes. After the second round of three runs, the top 8 single best scores would proceed to the finals," Toutant and McMorris were sitting in 2nd and 5th respectively.
McMorris, who is competing in his first X Games, wasn’t outside of the top 8 but was still not entirely comfortable with his position going into his third and final run, “I was freaking out, actually, but I ended up with the right song on my MP3 player and landed my stuff so I’m super pumped! I’m going to have to step it up for finals but I’ve got a few tricks to help step it up so I’m excited.” The ‘right’ song McMorris was talking about was Running Down a Dream by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Mark continued, “I’m in there, Seb’s in there, there was a lot of good riding going on so I’m stoked.” Mark finished in 3rd place with a score of 92 out of 100.
No stranger to competition, even Toutant wasn’t able to escape the pre-game jitters. “I was a little nervous when I first woke up because it’s my first X Games but I had a really good practice and right before my run I wasn’t too nervous,” explained Toutant, “I was stoked and focused. I ended up with an 88 after my first run and I knew that would get me in the final so I just tried to increase my score with every run and it worked out.” Going into his third and final run he sat in second place, 1 point behind Norwegian shredder Torstein Horgmo. Seb’s third run would be a game changer heard around the snowboarding world. He rode strong, technical and smooth through the early rail section of the course before attacking the 3 large jumps with back-to-back-to-back Double-Corks. That’s six inverts in 3 jumps. Toutant, along with the entire spectator area, waited collectively holding their breaths for his score. When it finally appeared on the big screen, a 97, it was soon realized that Toutant had just posted the highest score ever in Winter X Games Slopestyle history. “It feels great, you know?! It’s insane, it’s my first X Games!” Toutant exclaimed, “I didn’t care about finishing first or second or whatever, I just wanted to be in the top 8 going into finals, so this is incredible!” When asked if he has anything in mind for the finals on Sunday he answered, “In the final I will need to push it even harder, I will see how I feel. Hopefully we will have some blue skies like today.”
But the day isn’t over yet for Seb and Mark, with the Big Air Elimination round this evening they have little time to recoup and catch their breath. “I’m going to go back and chill at my condo, get something to eat and rest for the Big Air tonight,” said Toutant, “the jump is tricky, it has a long take off so you can’t set your edge to early and it’s a poppy jump with a kind of flat landing so it’s a little hard on the knees. But it’s the same thing for all 10 riders in the event with me so I will do my best and try to make it to finals.” Mcmorris felt the same way, “the Big Air jump is getting a little work done and hopefully it’s better than it was yesterday. The riding level is going to be off the wall so I’m just going to go do my best and have some fun.”
Be sure to check out the Big Air on ESPN starting this evening at 8:45pm EST.
Follow @redbullCanada @sebtoots and @markmcmorris on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news and information.