Park City’s Alex Hall takes slopestyle gold in X Games
The Aspen Times
Alex Hall isn’t out there trying to be flashy or overly technical. The freestyle skier from Utah is more about using his imagination on the snow and chasing his own personal enjoyment.
“I just try and keep it creative. Especially on the rails,” Hall said. “Hopefully try something that the judges think is unique and that I enjoy doing. As long as it’s fun to do, that’s the main reason we all do this.”
Hall, 20, may not have had the single biggest “wow” moment in Sunday’s X Games Aspen men’s ski slopestyle final — Sweden’s Jesper Tjader can claim that with his unique switch front flip off a rail — but it was the Park City resident who stole the show.
Making his third X Games Aspen appearance, Hall had the best two runs of the contest to win gold, his first X medal in five tries (he’s also competed in the Norway event twice). He overcame a strong first run by Canada’s Alex Beaulieu-Marchand, who won silver. Norway’s Ferdinand Dahl won bronze for his first X Games medal, although he was well behind the standard set by Hall and Beaulieu-Marchand.
“I was super tired just from skiing all week. It felt good to be able to put down some runs. It was really good today,” Hall said. “A little flat light, but the course was really nice. I don’t know, I’m just hyped on the run I put down. That was the run I was thinking of at the start, so I’m hyped they all worked out.”
Fresh off his silver medal in the men’s ski big air contest Saturday night, Beaulieu-Marchand set the tone Sunday with a first-run score of 92.66 in the slopestyle contest. Hall had a solid 86 on his initial run to hold down second place after the first run. Dahl’s best run of 80.33 also came on his first run.
Hall took charge on his second run, a 94.33 vaulting him over ABM, who scored 86.33 on his second go.
“I was really hyped on my second run,” Hall said. “I just kind of wanted to try and up it on one of the rails, and maybe do the last jump a little bit cleaner. It worked out. I was hyped. That was a crazy score they gave me. It was kind of like a Hail Mary run at the end there, so I was stoked it all came together.”
Hall didn’t back off on his final run, perfecting a couple of his hits to score 95.66. But with the talent still waiting to go, even that wasn’t a guarantee of gold. However, ABM crashed on his final run, and last year’s medalists in James Woods, Oystein Braaten and Henrik Harlaut failed to put down anything in the ballpark of what Hall had done.
A member of the U.S. Ski Team and a 2018 Olympian, Hall won his first World Cup event in Switzerland in March and got his second win earlier this month in France. He was fifth in the big air contest Saturday, but really broke through with his X Games gold Sunday.
“This is definitely my biggest career win, for sure,” Hall said. “I was tired this morning, but we had a nice little practice session before. I was surprised to land three pretty decent runs, so I was stoked.”
Next up are the 2019 World Championships, hosted by Hall’s hometown of Park City starting Friday and running through Feb. 10. Held every two years, worlds is certainly a big deal, but Hall sees it as a step down from the hectic, high-pressure nature of X Games.
“I think it will be chill,” Hall said. “X Games is more pressure than world champs, probably. Hopefully we feel a little more chill compared to this. We’ll see. Definitely excited, though.”
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The International Ski Federation has approved a tentative World Cup schedule for women’s Nordic combined for the first time ever. The first World Cup season is scheduled for 2020. Men have been competing at the Olympic level since 1924.