The X Games Reach New Heights
Gaon Choi, Megan Oldham, and Reira Iwabuchi make history in Aspen.
It’s always interesting to see what the X Games will look like after an Olympic year, and the 2023 edition of the event did not disappoint.
Megan Oldham started off the excitement on Friday night when she landed the first-ever triple cork in a women’s ski or snowboard event. The feat also earned her the first-ever perfect run (50) in an X Games women’s big air competition. Oldham added a rightside double cork 1260 later that night to end up with a winning overall score of 91 in the eight-athlete final.
“I really felt like I couldn’t leave Aspen without doing that trick,” she said after the event. “So, I just feel amazing.”
The Canadian’s confidence from Friday night carried into the women’s slopestyle event on Sunday where she combined clean rail execution with two double corks and an alley-oop rodeo 720 to win her second gold of the Games.
Oldham wasn’t the only athlete to make history last weekend. South Korean athlete Gaon Choi broke Chloe Kim‘s record as the youngest X Games Snowboard Halfpipe champion, winning gold at age 14 on Saturday in Aspen, Colorado.
Choi, the world junior champion, landed three different 900s in her third of four runs to move into first place. She then landed a frontside 1080 in her fourth run to seal the deal.
After the event, Choi spoke about what breaking Chloe Kim’s record meant to her: “I began snowboarding because of Chloe Kim and now almost being near her level when she was 14, it feels weird that I can see a possibility that I would go beyond her someday.”
Later that day in the women’s snowboarding big air competition, Japan’s Reira Iwabuchi made history as the first female snowboarder to successfully land a triple underflip frontside grab.
“It’s my dream. I really wanted to get a gold medal at the X Games,” Iwabuchi said after her win. “I’m really stoked to make history.”
Several of the athletes who participated at the X Games voiced their excitement about how much the level of competition has advanced in women’s freestyle skiing and snowboarding in recent years.
Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, who won silver behind Reira Iwabuchi, was pumped after the big air competition. “The level of competition tonight was absolutely insane; there hasn’t been a level like this ever! I’m proud to be a part of it and honored to be behind Reira because she is such an insane rider and it’s been a long time coming.”
On the skiing side, Oldham expressed similar feelings. “It feels crazy to be a part of the huge push in progression.”
It only goes up from here. Iwabuchi and Oldham have set a new standard in their respective sports, and it’s likely that others will soon begin to attempt or surpass the tricks that they executed at the X Games. The good news for fans is that there are several other skiing and snowboarding events taking place over the next few months. With athletes still competing for World Cup titles, there’s a chance that more history could be made before the end of the competition season.