words: Mary Walsh
Every year, the SNOWBOARDER staff goes to Aspen for the X Games and every Friday night of this annual event, we stand at the base of Buttermilk and watch as Mark McMorris, Stale Sandbech, Sven Thorgren, Sebastien Toutant, Yuki Kadono, Max Parrot, and more huck themselves through the night skies with a skill and precision so far beyond the physical abilities of standard humans. The edge control, the air awareness, and the calm under pressure possessed by this small group of snowboarding luminaries has elevated the level of trickery to a standard that really is as remarkable as it is unbelievable, and at every annual iteration of this infamous event, the boundaries are further stretched. The 2017 edition of Big Air continued this trend.
Max Parrot, Marcus Kleveland, Stale Sandbech, Mark McMorris, Sebastien Toutant, Kyle Mack, Yuki Kadono, and Sven Thorgren lined up at the top of the lengthy in-run for 30 minutes of rapid fire drops into a massive booter. Each rider in their own right has an arsenal of tricks worthy of many gold medals, but it was Canada's Max Parrot whose penchant for perfecting spins earned him back-to-back first place finishes in X Games Big Air. Max rode away from a quad underflip and a triple cork cab 1800, squeaking by Marcus Kleveland and into first place by only one point. With this win, Max tied Torstein Horgmo and Peter Line in big air gold medals.
Marcus Kleveland, young Norwegian phenom (the dab heard 'round the world) has been making waves at every contest he has entered since he entered the heavy circuit just a few months ago. The big air marked his first time competing in Aspen, and while Marcus may be younger than many of his comfortable-when-off-axis peers, he possesses a natural ability to perform under pressure and landed the first quadruple cork ever done in a contest. Not a bad start to his X Games career. Marcus was awarded second place, kicking off a medal collection that will likely necessitate a large trophy room or whatever sort of area is best suited for storing medals.
Mark McMorris, no stranger to sending it directly to the big air podium, rounded out the top three for the night. He put down a flawless backside triple 1620 and sent a quad attempt that announcer and brother Craig McMorris said Mark had not attempted before. His efforts added a bronze medal to his prolific collection of X Games hardware.