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Winter X Games: All-star skiers get ready to rip

Winter X Games: All-star skiers get ready to ripASPEN, Colorado — Saturday at X Games Ten was a day for snowboarding glory, as our one-planker brothers and sisters had the only finals of the day.

In the day's skiing action, spectators saw men's and women's superpipe practice and men's slopestyle practice, plus men's and women's skier X practice.

Eric Archer of Vail was third in men's qualifying for skier X, the X Games' name for skiercross. Archer is starting with his toughest race of the season: 'X Games is always the strongest field of the year," he said. "We've got the best of Europe and here, so it's like finals every round.'

Archer was fifth last year and has been a regular visitor to the podium in skiercross for the last 10 years, but he is especially pumped about this year. "With a third in qualifying, I'll get a good lane choice in the first two rounds, and I am healthy for the first time in three years coming in' he said.

Archer is healthy partially due to the abbreviated skiercross season in the United States this year. Salomon withdrew its Crossmax product line from the U.S. market this year, and with it went it's well-known Crossmax skiercross series that graced the U.S. Freeskiing Open, the U.S. Extremes in Crested Butte and other high-profile freeskiing events.

Qualifying in first and second place were Aspen's Casey Puckett and Tommy Eliasson of Sweden. Zach and Reggie Crist of Sun Valley will be looking to repeat their one-two finish at X last year, but the brothers qualified behind Archer today.

In women's skier X qualifying, Austrian Karin Huttary took first. Ophelia David of France and Australian Jenny Owens took second and third. The highest-placed Canadian in qualifying was Quebec's Anik Demers, and Brett Buckles of Steamboat Springs was the best American woman, in 13th place.

Men's and women's skier X finals begin at noon Sunday, taking place simultaneously.

Men's slopestyle practice was held today, and heats will be Sunday all day, concluding with the finals from 1-3 p.m.

There is a superstar roster in the house, of course. Among the big names that will be competing are Tanner Hall, Candide Thovex, TJ Schiller, Simon Dumont, Jon Olsson and Pep Fujas. There is no women's skiing slopestyle, something which X Games should address — the women throw down every bit as hard as the women boarders.

Speaking of women, they will have to wait for their moment in the sun in superpipe, which will be Tuesday at midday. Superpipe practice for men and women Saturday revealed several performers in top shape. Of course, Sarah Burke, who dominated a strong field of women last week at the U.S. Freeskiing Open, will be the one to watch. Jen Hudak is also a perennial favorite, but unlike Burke doesn't have a 900 in her bag of tricks in the pipe.

Also watch Grete Eliassen, Kristi Leskinen and Michelle Parker. Simon Dumont was blasting up to 22 feet out of the pipe while doing his truck-driver 540s and 900s Saturday. Thovex is looking hungry for X gold, after a disappointing X last year. Thovex is corking his 900s to the max, and he is eighteen feet out.

Then there's Hall, the perennial smooth trickster who is not losing anything with time — the men's superpipe will close the X Games on Tuesday night with an enormous finale under the lights.

The X Game circus is just getting cranked up — the snow is falling as it did Friday night, but the crowds are huge outside watching women's snowboard halfipe finals. The celebration of sport and winter rolls on to Sunday, but not before a couple of good Aspen parties.

Winter X Games results, Saturday
Men's boarder X

1. Nate Holland – Squaw Valley, Calif.
2. Marco Huser – Glarus, Switzerland
3. Jason Hale – Sugar Bowl, Calif.

Women's boarder X
1 Maelle Ricker – Whistler, B.C.
2. Joanie Anderson – South Lake Tahoe, Calif.
3. Claudia Haeusermann – Bern, Switzerland

Men's SBD slopestyle

1. Shaun White – Carlsbad, Calif.
2. Andreas Wiid – Oslo, Norway
3. Danny Kaas – Mammoth, Calif.

Women's SBD slopestyle
1. Jana Meyen – Bend, Ore.
2. Hanna Beaman – Big Bear, Calif.
3. Jamie Anderson – South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

What do you think?

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