X Games rookie Dusty Henricksen shines in slopestyle win | SummitDaily.com

X Games rookie Dusty Henricksen shines in slopestyle win

Austin Colbert
The Aspen Times
X Games rookie Dusty Henricksen competes in the men’s snowboard slopestyle finals at the 2021 X Games at Buttermilk on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

ASPEN — Dusty Henricksen never once looked phased by the atmosphere, as little as there was this year at X Games Aspen because of the pandemic. The 17-year-old from California made the most of his first appearance at Buttermilk by winning a pair of events, including in Sunday’s men’s snowboard slopestyle contest.

“It’s been great a week,” he said. “I’m tripping still. It doesn’t really feel real, yet. I feel I’m about to wake up soon. I don’t know what to say. I’m pretty speechless, honestly.”

The X Games rookie won Friday’s snowboard knuckle huck contest to get things started, and then followed with an impressive showing Sunday in slopestyle, a contest that had originally been scheduled for Saturday but was postponed a day because of weather.

Henricksen formerly trained under Nichole Mason, a former Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club coach that went on to to coach for the U.S. national team but has since moved on. Despite that Aspen connection, Henricksen had little experience riding in Colorado at all outside of some smaller competitions at Copper Mountain.

“I try not to have any expectations, because you never really know what is going to happen,” Henricksen said. “The run that I fell on was honestly my favorite snowboard lap I’ve taken all season. Just to be able to ride that course and cruise and have fun and do whatever you want is so sick.”

Snowboarders Rene Rinnekangas, left, and Dusty Henricksen hug as they take their perspective podiums after medaling in the X Games 2021 men’s snowboard slopestyle finals at Buttermilk on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Henricksen held off Norway’s Mons Roisland and Finland’s Rene Rinnekangas in Sunday’s slopestyle competition. The big story of the event was who wasn’t competing. Canadians Mark McMorris and Max Parrot, two of the best slopestyle and big air athletes of all time, both had to withdraw after testing positive for COVID-19.

The 10-man field included reigning Olympic slopestyle champion Red Gerard, a Summit County product who finished sixth on Sunday.

Roisland thought he had overtaken Henricksen on the final run of the contest — a sentiment shared by Henricksen to an extent — but the judges still gave the contest to the X Games rookie.

“I was a little nervous, but also super hyped because that was just the most ridiculous run in the world,” Henricksen said of Roisland’s final run. “Just a lot of emotions. I was just trying to stay on my feet and snowboard and have a good time with all these boys.”

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