|ESPN.com: Winter X 16 (2012)||[Print without images]|
|Snowboarders from Texas? Believe it. Caleb Moore and brother Colten are going for gold.|
This story appears in the Jan. 9, 2012 NEXT issue of ESPN The Magazine.
SNOWMOBILE FREESTYLE AND BEST TRICK
BIGGEST THREAT: Swedish rider Daniel Bodin. After four years of fourth-place finishes in freestyle, Bodin added several flip tricks and combos AND WON 2011 Winter X GOLD in Freestyle and Best Trick.
MOST CAREER MEDALS: Heath Frisby: 1 gold, 1 bronze (Best Trick); 3 bronze (freestyle)
The older half of the Moore brothers -- or, as they're often referred to in the snowmobile community, "those ATV guys from Texas" -- Caleb surprised the freestyle snowmobile community by taking a bronze in his Winter X debut in 2010. This just a month after Caleb, now 24, first jumped a sled. Of course, Caleb and 22-year-old Colten, who also competes at Winter X, were no strangers to freestyle tricks. Both grew up racing ATVs and switched to freestyle ATV as teenagers. But a sponsorship with Polaris, which manufactures ATVs and snowmobiles, gave them the chance to test their talents in the snow. "The 2010 X Games was unbelievable pressure," Caleb says. "It was a whole new world. And it was cold." Speaking of cold, in last year's best trick event, Caleb became the first snowmobiler to land a Carolla -- a hands-free midair horizontal 360 -- but he took only silver. "I landed a trick for the first time on a sled, a trick that won gold in freestyle motocross at X Games, but didn't win," he says. "It's gotten zero respect from the judges the past two years, so I'll throw a flip of some sort this year." He hopes to flip the script as well.
|Sebastien Toutnt is a Big Air favorite.|
SNOWBOARD SLOPESTYLE AND BIG AIR
BIGGEST THREAT: Mark McMorris, Sebastien Toutant's 18-year-old red bull teammate. Last year, Toutant and Mcmorris finished first and second in Slopestyle, becoming the first Canadian men to medal in the discipline at Winter X.
MOST CAREER MEDALS: Shaun White: 5 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze (Slopestyle); Torstein Horgmo: 2 gold, 1 silver (Big Air)
The name Seb Toots has been so ubiquitous the past 12 months, it's hard to believe he made his Winter X debut one year ago. But since his double-medal performance (gold in slopestyle, silver in big air) and big air win at the FIS Snowboard World Cup tour stop in Stoneham, Quebec -- not to mention the video of his triple cork 1440 that's drawn more than 130,000 hits on YouTube -- it's impossible to talk about slopestyle snowboarding without mentioning this French-Canadian. Now the question is, what can he do to top his 2011? With the increasing popularity of slopestyle, the men's final is being held at night for the first time since Winter X debuted in 1997 -- all the better for Toutant to show off his skills. "During the day, the weather can change," he says, "so riding at night is better. I'm excited to bring something new. If the big air jump is right, maybe a triple cork." That will keep them talking.
|Superpipe favorite Torin Yater-Wallace added a double cork 1260 to his run.|
BIGGEST THREAT: Kevin Rolland, French skier. Since late 2009, He has won four Winter X events between Aspen and Tignes, France, and the 2011 Winter Dew Tour overall title.
MOST CAREER MEDALS: Simon Dumont: 2 gold, 2 silver, 3 bronze
So what did Yater-Wallace do after his 2011 debut, the one in which the hometown kid became the youngest Winter X medalist ever? He returned to Aspen High School, where he was a freshman. Not surprisingly, attending classes after the victory had its unusual moments. Classmates clapped as he walked into school, and a play on his new nickname, Yater-Tots, led to the posting of this sign in the cafeteria: "Free Tater Tot -- Congratulations, Torin!" Clever. Now just imagine the reaction if he had won gold in ski superpipe, not silver. To that end, he's added switch tricks to his run, something he lacked in 2011, and a double cork 1260, which he learned in December. "There is a little pressure having the hometown crowd cheering for me," he says. "But you have to block that out, stay calm and ski like it's just another day."
|Luke Mitrani was the youngest rider ever named to the U.S. snowboard team.|
BIGGEST THREAT: Shaun White -- obviously. but the other guy to beat might be White's 2010 Olympic teammate Louie Vito, who finished a close second to Mitrani at december's grand prix event at Copper Mountain.
MOST CAREER MEDALS: White: 6 gold, 2 silver
For years, Luke Mitrani was labeled the next Shaun White. At 12, he was the youngest rider ever named to the U.S. snowboard team, and he quickly became a regular in the finals at major events. However, since he turned 16, it's been rare to see Mitrani without a cast on some part of his body. He throws some of the most innovative tricks in the halfpipe, but injuries have kept him from logging a consistent contest schedule and being on the top rung of the podium. Until December, that is, when Mitrani won the first Grand Prix of the 2011-12 season at Copper Mountain -- a victory he traces to all of the time spent on his skateboard this summer. "Skating reminded me that I do my best when I'm not thinking about winning or losing, and just having fun," Mitrani says. "That's what I did in Copper." Hmm. Sounds like what a certain X Games legend would do.
|Kaya Turksi is tied for the most Ski Slopestyle medals.|
BIGGEST THREAT: Keri Herman, two-time Winter X runner-up to Turski. The 29-year-old started skiing seriously after college. And that's about the same age when Turski won her first Winter X Slopestyle contest.
MOST CAREER MEDALS: (Tie) Turski: 2 gold, 1 bronze; Grete Eliassen: 1 silver, 2 bronze
Heading into 2012, Kaya Turski is injury-free, and that's a scary thought for her rivals. Turski has dominated the ski slopestyle scene the past couple of years, and she's done so while seemingly always being on the mend. In February 2009, she dislocated her right shoulder. Less than a year later, she won her first Winter X gold medal. In April 2010, she had ACL surgery on her left knee (she had her right ACL repaired in 2007), then won the 2011 Winter X Games the following January. "It's a little stressful thinking about defending my title, but pressure works for me," Turski says. So does the prospect of being part of her sport's Olympic debut in 2014. This off-season, Turski began training with the newly formed Canadian national slopestyle team. "I'm planning ahead and thinking about what I want to accomplish in the next three years," she says. It all starts with a Winter X three-peat as reigning gold medalist -- while staying healthy.
Alyssa Roenigk is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Follow The Mag on Twitter, @ESPNmag, and like us on Facebook.