After some brutal practice days and two rounds of eliminations over the past three days, all the while braving Mother Nature's winter fury here at Breckenridge, the top 12 riders to compete in the Men's Snowboard Slopestyle Final have been narrowed down and announced.
Leading the pack from the get-go, Mikkel Bang threw down some Norwegian shred in his first run. Mikkel is one of the few riders in Finals who was not pre-qualified in the Slopestyle event, which means he fought his way through an initial field of 50 riders. He was then matched up against a field of 20 pre-qualified athletes and 15 from Open Qualifiers to compete in this afternoon's Qualifiers.
Following close on Mikkel's heels but not until their second runs were fellow Norwegian Torstein Horgmo and the man himself, Shaun White. Shaun took his first run mellow, but he came out blazing on his second run with a Cab 900 on the first booter, to a Backside 900 on the second jump and a frontside 900 on the last hit. Let's just say he proved to the crowd and judges (if there was any doubt) he's got three out of the four possible 900s on lockdown. (We're hoping to see the fourth variation in the Finals.)
Mason Aguirre, catching his breath after his second qualifying run (that would leave him in 7th place and also allowing him into today's elite Men's Snowboard Slopestyle Finals) said he was "super nervous this morning and really just geared towards landing a solid run and landing a good ten (1080)." He said he was surprised that Danny Davis and Scotty Lago didn't make it into Finals. Otherwise the Finals are stacked. Mason's top picks include Shaun White, Heikki Sorsa, Kevin Pearce, and Andreas Wiig. "With all those guys, It's going to be insane," he said.
Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle Finals: