Skiercross: X Games Xplained with Tyler Shepherd


As the U.S. Skiercross Team prepares for its biggest competition of the season this weekend at Winter X Games 13 in Aspen, Colo., we asked head coach Tyler Shepherd a few questions about why the X Games is “The Superbowl” of the skiercross season.

SR: How is the cross team feeling going into the Games?
TS: The team is looking really good. Casey, Daron, and Jake have been looking really good in training and really seem to be feeding off the energy here at X-Games. They are getting things figured out on the course and we are very excited to see what happens.
As the U.S. Skiercross Team prepares for its biggest competition of the season this weekend at Winter X Games 13 in Aspen, Colo., we asked head coach Tyler Shepherd a few questions about why the X Games is “The Superbowl” of the skiercross season.

SR: How is the cross team feeling going into the Games?
TS: The team is looking really good. Casey, Daron, and Jake have been looking really good in training and really seem to be feeding off the energy here at X-Games. They are getting things figured out on the course and we are very excited to see what happens.

SR: What sets the X Games apart from any other cross event?
TS: X-Games has always been the top event on our schedule. It is our Super Bowl for ski cross, and X-Games spares no expense from how they treat the athletes to how well organized and well prepared the courses and other venues are for the other disciplines. Not only do we have ski cross taking place, but you can be watching guys huck back flips on their snowmobiles and the park guys going huge in the new 22ft. pipe. It is really an outstanding event that truly showcases our respective sports.

SR: How do cross races at the X Games compare to those on the World Cup?
TS: There is really no comparison. X-Games, again, spares no expense in designing, arguably, the best course of the year. This ski cross course is full of terrain that challenges the athletes in many ways, as well as pushes them to the max with the length of the course. As the course pushes just over a minute and a half. We hardly see World Cup courses reach one minute, and I think that is really unfortunate, because of all places the World Cup SX tour should be challenging the athletes at the highest level, and 38-45-second courses just don’t do that. Certainly there are challenges to building courses that match up to X-Games caliber, however, there is much more opportunity to enhance the sport of ski cross. FIS has a huge opportunity to take ski cross to the highest level, but they need to be willing to open their minds and allow the sport to grow and not hinder it with too many rules on course design. Too often are there courses in Europe with lacking terrain and only GS turns, and that needs to be phased out so that the sport has mainstream value and attract more media.

SR: In your opinion, what are the best and worst parts of the X Games as far
as cross races go?
TS: The best part of X-Games ski cross is that it is well organized, well run, and well designed. There really aren’t any drawbacks to the ski cross competition at X-Games. It is the biggest purse of the year and most exciting race of the year!

SR: Describe the cross course at Buttermilk. What aspects of it will pose
the biggest challenges?
TS: The course is full of rollers that are at varying heights and distances, as well as some sections where the athletes can triple or double the features. Then there is the spectacular finish jump that is, as always, huge. The biggest challenge will be how the athletes are able to navigate through the long sections of rollers and make passes to get the transfer spot or in the final going for the podium.

SR: Who in particular should we keep an eye on this weekend?
TS: The entire field this year is top-notch, so outside of Casey Puckett, Daron Rahlves, and Jake Fiala, it could be anyone’s race come Sunday.

Friday’s X Games seeding results for men’s skiercross going into quarterfinals:
1. Brady Leman / 92.516 / Calgary, AB, Canada / Bib 175
2. Brian Bennett / 93.532 / Quesnel, BC, Canada / Bib 195
3. Tomas Kraus / 93.843 / Decin, Czech Republic / Bib 669
4. Stanley Hayer / 93.870 / Calgary, AB, Canada / Bib 667
5. Lars Lewen / 93.913 / Stockholm, Sweden / Bib 678
6. Daron Rahlves / 94.231 / Truckee, Calif. / Bib 674
7. Ted Piccard / 94.297 / Les Saisies, France / Bib 672
8. Andy Matt / 94.45 / Flirsch, Austria / Bib 671
9. Eric Andersson / 94.929 / Nora, Sweden / Bib 661
10. Errol Kerr / 95.203 / Truckee, Calif. / Bib 668
11. Hiroomi Takizawa / 95.338 / Yonezawa, Japan / Bib 677
12. Chris Del Boscow / 95.472 / Vail, Colo. / Bib 663
13. Casey Puckett / 96.819 / Aspen, Colo. / Bib 673
14. Davey Barr / 97.325 / Whistler, BC, Canada / Bib 662
15. Conradign Netzer / 97.910 / Masein, Switzerland / Bib 186
16. Robin Lenel / 98.624 / Grenobel, France / Bib 670
17. Andreas Steffen / 99.085 / Gstaad, Switzerland / Bib 676
18. Jake Fiala / 99.340 / Copper, Colo. / Bib 664
19. Tommy Eliasson / 99.341 / A-Stersund, Sweden / Bib 174
20. Armin Neiderer / 99.414 / Klosters, Switzerland / Bib 184
21. Audun Groenvold / 99.605 / Hamar, Norway / Bib 666
22. Mike Schmid / 99.948 / Frutigen, Switzerland / Bib 675
23. Enak Gavaggio / 101.786 / Bourg St. Maurice, France / Bib 665
24. John Teller / 102.237 / Mammoth Lakes, Calif. / Bib 176

Women’s seeding:
1. Ophelie David / 106.052 / Alpe D’Huez, France / Bib 648
2. Magdalena Jonsson / 107.260 / Nora, Sweden / Bib 651
3. Julia Murray / 107.478 / Whistler, BC, Canada / Bib 182
4. Karin Huttary / 109.361 / Innsbruck, Austria / Bib 197
5. Ashleigh McIvor / 110.979 / Whistler, BC, Canada / Bib 170
6. Jenny Owens / 111.879 / Freshwater, Austria / Bib 652
7. Sasa Faric / 111.944 / Radomlje, Slovenia / Bib 650
8. Marion Josserand / 115.504 / Sachilienne, France / Bib 179
9. Seraina Murk / 117.251 / Lenzerheide, Switzerland / Bib 682
10. Anika Demers-Wild / 151.246 / Truckee, Calif. / Bib 649
11. Hedda Berntsen / DNC / Oslo, Norway / Bib 646
12. Kelsey Serwa / DNC / Kelowna, BC, Canada / Bib 180


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