X GAMES ASPEN – Who to watch out for…

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Inside Guide to X Games Aspen

As most of you know, the X Games is a staple event for most extreme sports athletes and is a definite ‘Sharpie’ scribble on the calendar. It’s not just an event for the athletes though as thousands of us travel the country, the continent and the globe to see our favourite events in a big TV setting.

So, as 2017 rolls into a steady motion of days flying by, I’m looking at X Games Aspen and all of the athletes that are invited. With 3 disciplines to watch in Aspen (halfpipe, Big Air and slopestyle) there are hundreds of invited athletes. I’m not going to give you a full list of athletes because that would just be pointless. I am, however, going to show you a small selection of riders to look out for because I’m just that nice.

First up, just because I should really just get him out of the way, is

Shaun White

This guy has been both man and boy throughout his snowboarding and skateboarding career and has been hoovering up medals left, right and centre. If you’re a fan of the Shaun, you’ll enjoy watching him fly around the air with complete disregard for physics. If you hate him, you’ll be pleading for a fall, or missed grab to put him down in the rankings.

I hate to break it to you though, he’s pretty consistent of a rider so the chances of that happening are pretty slim. There’s some great talent within the list of invited riders though so who knows, maybe there will be a huge upset and he’ll finish 4th…

Katie Ormerod

https://www.instagram.com/p/BPaObyGhOY3/?taken-by=ormerodkatie

If you’ve been a fan of snowboarding over the last few years and are very much involved in what goes on, you will be recognising the name Katie Ormerod. Currently 19 years old, Katie has been riding for the GB Park & Pipe team for a few years now (and is also relatives with Jamie Nicholls!) and has been upping her game as the seasons go by.

Most recently, Katie has won the World Cup Big Air in Moscow. It’s the first time a Brit has won the title and it was completely justified! This girl has bags of talent and will be looking to stamp her mark in the X Games as we look towards the 2018 Winter Olympics. Expect Katie to be close, if not on the podium.

Kelly Sildaru

https://www.instagram.com/p/BOif3ucDD6S/?taken-by=kellysildaru_

Kelly has been skiing for longer than I’ve been eating hot dinners. Ok, that’s a bit of a stretch but she’s been skiing for most of her life, despite only being nearly 15, and has been making skiing videos for most of that time!

I remember seeing her talent when the content was being produced and noting the name down as everyone was only expecting big things from her. After winning the Gold Medal a the X Games in Aspen last year, she’s looking to repeat that victory and show the rest of the world that she’s the one to beat. Anything less than a podium for Kelly and I’d be incredibly shocked.

Torin Yater-Wallace

Sosh Big Air Annecy, France P: @minus28_travel

A post shared by Torin Yater-Wallace (@torinyw) on

This guy has had a pretty rough run of it recently, with illness, injury and everything in between hampering his skiing, he’s finally skiing again and skiing well! For 2 years (4 X Games events in that time), he finished no lower than 3rd place. After falling very ill (which took him out of the running for 2 months), and riding injured at another event, his skiing has picked up back to the usual high standard we expect.

He’s raring to go this year so, providing he has no new injuries, he’ll be picking up high marks all over the snow. Expect some incredibly technical and flowing tricks throughout his runs, but don’t expect a gold medal. He’s incredible but there are more skiers who are smashing it harder right now.

Taku Hiraoka

https://www.instagram.com/p/BJh2D72gAv_/?taken-by=taku_hiraoka

Taku has been riding since a very young age and has been riding in competitions from the age of 7! As he honed his skills, he started to create quite the wake behind him. The notoriety followed and he’s been picking up some decent results over the last few years.

Hiraoka hasn’t really taken a consistent string of results from the X Games but he’s picking up results elsewhere. Definitely one to watch and certainly a wild card option for a podium finish.

Benoit Valentin

https://www.instagram.com/p/BPQIihwB3Dg/?taken-by=benvalentin

Normally seen with ski friend, Kevin Rolland, Benoit is normally looked at with the reputation of being a skiing partner with Rolland. I’ve never wanted to subscribe to this idea and watching Benoit really come into his own throughout the last few years (especially when Rolland was injured) has been incredible.

He’s one hell of a talented skier and can compete with the best in his field. If he’s on his A-game for the X Games, he’ll easily pick up a medal. If he’s a few inches off of any trick, he won’t be landing and it’ll be tough to watch. I have high hopes for him though.

So those are my picks for X Games Aspen 2017. If you have anyone else you think deserves a watch, let us know and give your opinion. A bit of healthy debate never hurt anyone!

As you may know, there are other events in there like the Snowcross and Bikecross, but we’re focussing on the huge events that get the TV coverage that the most of you will be following. If you’re a fan of the other events, tell us and we’ll give you some tips.

X Games Aspen 2017 Teaser:

For more information and tickets head to X Games

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Kel Verbiest

Kel is a content manager and sports writer based on the south coast of England. When he's not typing away, you can find him in several super people watching spots.

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