At the 2010 Winter X Games, a quirky young ripper from the tiny Atlantic nation of Iceland came to Big Air and stole the show. Halldor Helgason had the judge's booth going crazy with his then never-before-seen backside double cork 1260.
Helgason bucked history: Winter X rookies usually suffer jitters. First-year athletes arrive with buzz before flaming out under pressure. Helgason was a rare exception. Sebastien Toutant looks to follow Helgason's example at Winter X 2011. The 18-year-old French-Canadian from Montreal definitely has the goods. And it appears he has the poise.
Toutant won the TTR 6Star Air & Style Beijing competition in December with a Cab double cork melon grab 1260. He also won the FIS World Cup Big Air event in Stockholm a few weeks before that, and the TTR 6Star O'Neill Evolution slope a few weeks after. The kid is on a tear, and he's only getting better.
"It feels good, for sure," Toutant says in accented English. "It's a great comeback for me."
Toutant entered the 2009-10 season on the list of up and comers to watch. He made the Winter X 2010 roster, and went into the first major contest of the season -- the Air & Style, Innsbruck 2009 ready to prove himself. He was the first rider to drop into the jump. It was icy, he overshot it and broke his right ankle, forcing him to drop out of Winter X and miss the rest of the competition season.
Toutant says his early season successes this year -- even if he hates the FIS World Cups but "had nothing better to do" -- have given him more confidence in his big tricks, like his Cab double cork 1260s. "I can land them a lot of the time, but they're not like back sevens or anything," he says. "Now I'm more and more comfy landing them every time, and I'm going to need that at the X Games."
He knows medaling at Winter X won't be easy. "To win contests, you gotta do some double corks," he says. "That's why I've got my backside double cork 1080s and can land them every time, and I'm [learning] switch backside double corks, switch double backside rodeos; I'm going to work it so I'll have more than one double cork in the same run."
Toutant is thriving on the sport's current push for progression. "I think it's cool. It's fun that snowboarding is pushing so hard and everybody is trying to learn new stuff," he says. "With all these double corks, it's getting more and more interesting. In contests, if you spin safe, flat 10s you're not going to win."
Despite that, he does admit to loving flat spins, and he can appreciate the style that is the hallmark of good videos. He adds that his favorite trick is a flat Cab 900 "even though it's not that hard."
While the flat Cab 900 might not be that difficult, plenty of his top comp tricks are. This year, he says he's stoked to be riding against guys he's looked up to for years. If he's on point and shows the ability he's flashed thus far in the young 2010-11 season, it won't be surprising if he flies right past them on the results list.