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Locals set to make mark at X Games

Bryce Evans
summit daily news
Summit Daily/Mark Fox
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While much of the talk leading up to today’s start of Winter X Games 15 in Aspen has been centered on Shaun White’s return to competition (and to slopestyle) and Torah Bright ditching out on her golden event to also take to the slope course, some of Summit County’s heavy hitters seem poised to make some noise of their own.

The local contingent – seven athletes in all – could conceivably collect medals in seven separate events, if all goes well. And that’s even with two-time X Games champ Steve Fisher sitting out of the snowboard pipe contest this year.

Here’s a look at Summit’s representatives:

Keri Herman (women’s freeski slopestyle): Ladies first, and this one might very well be in first when the women’s freeski slopestyle podium is figured out today at 1 p.m. Herman, a Breckenridge team member, started out her season with a podium at Breck’s Winter Dew Tour stop, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if the 27-year-old snagged a medal today.

Duncan Adams (freeski superpipe): The Summit native’s skiing has been talked about in pro-athlete circles as the next progression in the sport. He’ll be in halfpipe competition which starts with the elimination round today. Adams, who’s also a top big-mountain skier, throws more technical tricks than some of his double-flipping counterparts. In Breck’s Dew Tour stop, Adams qualified first in the preliminary round and started the finals with a massive switch air that had the crowd – and his competitors afterward – gushing.

Zack Black (snowboard superpipe): Another Summit native and one of the top up-and-coming halfpipe riders. Black, a 2009 Summit High grad, nearly made the Olympic team last year as a teenager and has been making finals in top-flight competitions as regularly as he’s landed his onslaught of backside tricks. He was the first rider to ever land a switch, backside 1080 a year ago, and he’ll likely have one of the most technical runs in tonight’s elimination round, which starts at 7.

Bobby Brown (freeski slopestyle, big air): A year ago, Brown was the first freeskier to ever win two gold medals in a single X Games (slopestyle and big air). He’s the favorite in both disciplines this year, and the 19-year-old Breck skier is coming off an impressive win at the Killington, Vt., Dew stop last weekend. Brown, who grew up in Denver, starts his week today in the slope elimination round at 10 a.m. (finals are Saturday at 2:30 p.m.). The big air elimination is Saturday at 7 p.m. with finals at 8:30..

Gus Kenworthy (freeski slopestyle): The 18-year-old Breck skier is fresh off a podium finish in Killington – in halfpipe. He won’t be in that field this week but will be part of the extremely deep field in slope.

J.J. Thomas (snowboard superpipe): The epitome of consistency, Thomas has been among the top riders in the sport for nearly a decade. He was the 2002 Olympic bronze medalist and just last week finished second in Killington, bumping him to second on the overall Dew Cup standings. The 28-year-old Breck rider will be alongside Black in today’s elimination round and could challenge for a podium spot in Sunday’s 6:30 p.m. final.

Eric Willett (snowboard slopestyle, big air (alternate)): The Summit native has had a steady climb through the riding ranks over the past few years, culminating in a gold medal in slopestyle at last year’s Winter X Europe in France. The 22-year-old also picked up a silver in Aspen last year and already this season has podium finishes in the Dew Tour (second at Killington last week) and the O’Neill Evolution (third). He has a run full of double corks and is certainly among the favorites when the slope contest kicks off Friday with the elimination round at 11 a.m. The finals are set for Sunday at 1:45 p.m., and Willett may end up in Friday’s big-air competition as well (6:45 p.m. elimination, 8 final).


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