Winter X Games rookie Samson Danniels crossed the finish first in Mono Skier X on Sunday at Winter X 2012. Alaskan Gregory Peck took second, holding off defending champion Josh Dueck in third.
"Kids dream of this, I dreamt of it," Danniels said. "I got an X Games gold medal I'm going home with. It's pretty unbelievable."
The lead was handed off multiple times in the final heat as all four skiers jockeyed for position throughout the course. Peck led through the middle section, holding off Danniels nipping at his backside.
"I knew I had him, I knew I had the turning skills on top of his," said Danniels, who was using a borrowed mono ski.
As the two approached the banked turns, Danniels saw his opportunity. "I could see him scrubbing his ski. I could see his turn wasn't clean," Danniels said. "I cocked back on the turn before, I let 'er go and I just knew that was going to be the point. I stuck it inside and I just took him. I knew it was mine."
But Peck would not go quietly. "He got in front of me and it pissed me off," Peck said. The 2010 silver medalist steadily shortened Danniels' lead through the bottom section until the two were tip to tail on the takeoff of the final jump. "I started gaining on him more and more as we came in after he passed me," Peck said. "I tried taking him mid-flight." Peck made contact with Danniels as the two shot through the air toward the finish line.
The mid-air collision sent Peck tumbling out of control in the only crash of the final. He exploded on impact, but his forward momentum carried him across the finish in time to secure the silver medal.
Danniels managed to escape the wreckage.
Said bronze medalist Dueck, "We were way more competitive as a field. It's never good coming up a couple [places] down, but I skied well. And the number one objective of all the athletes here is to showcase our sport to the best of our ability and I think we did that today."
Check out full results from the Mono Skier X finals.