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TIGNES, France -- Sebastien Toutant beat out defending X Games Aspen gold medalist and friend Mark McMorris on the Jeep Slopestyle course at X Games Tignes on Friday.
Toutant's win -- his first X Games medal since winning silver at X Games Tignes 2011 -- was an upset over McMorris, who has been a dominant force in men's slopestyle competition since he and Toutant showed up to X Games Aspen 2011 as rookies and took silver and gold, respectively.
"Mark's been killing it this year. I've known him since I was little and you know he proved himself a lot," Toutant said, after the competition, trading high fives with McMorris.
"I was stoked for Seb already and he absolutely killed it," McMorris said. "It was my last slopestyle run of the year contest-wise, and to end it like that I'm happy. That's the way I wanted to ride and whatever happened happened."
Toutant led after the first of three runs then landed the first clean triple cork of the competition in his second run, followed by a stomped Cab 1260, earning a score of 95.0. That put the pressure on the rest of the field to try for triples on the 68-foot middle jump, the biggest feature on this year's course
Torstein Horgmo, the top qualifier from Thursday's elimination round, fell in Run 2 after sending a triple cork attempt deep into the landing zone. He injured his right ankle and sat out Run 3, leaving Peetu Piiroinen securely in bronze medal position and letting Toutant and McMorris to battle it out for gold.
"My foot is not stoked right now," Horgmo said, icing his ankle from the top of the course.
A hand drag in Toutant's third and final run left all eyes on McMorris, who improved his score to 94.0, one point shy of Toutant, with a run that included a Cab 1260 double cork and a backside triple cork.
But it wasn't just a big air show: Toutant's sophisticated rail work -- specifically his switch hardway backside 270 to switch lipslide 270 out on the first rail -- ultimately helped give him the edge over McMorris.
Asked if today's top slopestyle riders are sick yet of media focus on the triple cork in a contest run that includes other spin varations and rail tricks, Toutant replied, "I kind of get it. It's like a backflip. You do a backflip and the crowd goes nuts because you go upside down -- a triple cork you go upside down three times. Triple corks are kind of new so we put the focus on them, but there's so much more [to slopestyle] than that."
Horgmo's triple cork attempt was so big that it looked like he could have possibly brought it around a fourth time, leading to speculation that quad corks might be on the horizon for slopestyle in the future.
"We don't really want our sport going in that direction," said Toutant, when asked about the quad. "We want to keep it mellow and how it used to be, which wasn't a sport, it was having fun with your buddies. We want to keep the style in (contests) and leave the quad corks for the skiers."