Ski Slopestyle (Men)
Some rotten conditions during men's eliminations threw a serious monkey wrench in the finals lineups. James Woods is out after botching the top rail section, Henrik Harlaut is out after missing the landing on two attempts of his nosebutter double 12, and Nick Goepper is out after having trouble on the same jump, although credit is owed for landing his double 10 on one ski. Even while being eliminated, he still performed some Superman-level move. The top two point leaders from this season are out of contention, opening two doors to the podium.
Jossi Wells qualified first as an alternate despite not getting a few of his grabs as securely as I'm sure he wanted them. I have a feeling the podium is going to be a mix of Jossi, Tom Wallisch, and Gus Kenworthy, who was skiing with a distinct amount of pep during qualifiers. However, with Harlaut, Goepper, and Woodsy out of the mix, any of the others towards the bottom end of the qualifying batch could pull out the right combination of doubles and get onto the podium. The rail section doesn't have the potential of Aspen's crazy setup to allow any super distinctive jibs, so keep your eyes on the jump line.
Ski Slopestyle (Women)
The schedule shift due to the weather is messing with the women's lineups, too, although in a pretty interesting way. Lisa Zimmerman, the first woman to land a double cork 1260 on snow, was set to compete in slope finals, and possibly bring her double, which she's landed four out of seven times in competition, to the final jump. However, Zimmerman's got an English final exam on Friday, and will have to take off to study before finals begins. A bit of a bummer, but also good news for ski parents looking for role models for their kids.
The less exacting Tignes slopestyle course should play better for the ladies overall, and its rail-heavy nature in particular is going to play well for Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen, who won the Aspen X Games with some techier jibs on the top section of the course and a huge grabbed 900 to finish it off. Ashley Battersby could as well benefit from a more trickable rail line. Kaya ended up in second in Aspen after matching Christiansen for most of the run, but then finishing with a modest (for her) switch 5 on the final jump. If she can bust out the switch 10 that won her a three-peat in Aspen last year (she went switch 7 at last week's World Cup), it's going to be hard for the young Norwegian to secure the gold again without at least one bigger jump trick. Whoever can manage to keep up the tech game on the rails or spin 5s and 7s all the way down will find themselves on the podium with Kaya and Tiril.
Ski Superpipe (Men)
After last week's World Cup at a pretty flat Norwegian pipe, which had most athletes gasping for speed, we're back in Tignes steeptown, which means enough air for the field's biggest tricks. It also means extra speed for Joffrey Pollet-Villard, the Frenchman that astonished this year's Aspen crowd with a nearly 23-foot alley oop flatspin 5, and managed to overcome the World Cup's flatter pipe to take that trick up to nearly 28 feet. If he can repeat that kind of size, the hometown crowd could push him into third.
Thomas Krief's new trick, a switch 1260 tail, is so far unmatched in the field and could put him high on the finals list. He is also stomping an alley-oop dub 9 as clean as Torin Yater-Wallace’s version. Torin's double down the pipe is his biggest trick, and if he can send it with some bigger amplitude, he's going to be tough to best. However, David Wise's right to left double cork 12 mute is going to be the biggest combo to beat, and is the strongest reason why I think he'll stay in first in France.
Ski Superpipe (Women)
The possibilities for this event are relatively open, as the World Cup Championship podium was completely different from Aspen this year. Anais Caradeux is the real dark horse in this event; she does the best job in the field of landing high on the tranny and keeping speed for bigger airs, and recovered from her scrubbed Aspen performance to get silver at last week's World Cup. If she can swap one of her straight airs out for a spin, she could be a serious contender this week.
Aspen champ Maddie Bowman has right and left 9s, and will do well if she can start her run with more amplitude and grace on the right 9. Roz G has always had good amplitude, but will need to finish with a stronger final air to take the win. Virginie Faivre and Japan's Ayana Onozuka could be in the mix as well, but the name of the game will be skiing confidently with stomped airs, throwing at least one 900, and a decent final trick.
Real Ski Backcountry
Sammy Carlson was announced today as the winner of the inaugural Real Ski video contest, which was stacked with a pretty stellar set of entries. It seemed obvious that Sammy would win from the beginning, though; while matching the tech hand drags of Wiley and the rest of the field, Sammy knew doubles would win, so was sure not only to do a bunch of them, but to do several back to back in the same line, which no one else did. This contest was worth it in and of itself just to see Sammy, Parker, Wiley, Pep, and Pettit produce the edits they did.
The full X Games schedule can be found here.