Winter X Games: Thovex injured, but expects to compete in Tuesday finals


Winter X Games: Thovex injured, but expects to compete in Tuesday finalsASPEN, Colorado – It was a relatively quiet day at X Games Ten for skiers Monday. But that didn't mean there was no action.

Men and women prepared for the finals in superpipe, and the day was not without incident. Legend of freeskiing Candide Thovex hit the lip on his third run and hurt his knee badly, ending his training for the day. The word on the street is that he is OK and will be ready to go in Tuesday night's superpipe final.

Not so lucky was Gina Gmeiner, a contender for a podium in pipe (fifth in U.S. Open 2006), who wiped out hard on the lip and wound up with a contusion on her hip.

Sarah Burke, who cruised though the latest pipe comp at the U.S. Freeskiing Open, may have some trouble getting by Grete Eliassen Tuesday. Eliassen is a Norwegian former World Cup (GS and slalom) alpine racer, now a freeskiing powerhouse and living in Park City, Utah. In training today, she was looking much stronger than the rest of the field. 'My goal today was to figure out the tranny and go super big, and figure out the tricks tomorrow' Eliassen said.

True enough, Eliassen was not doing much spinning, but her amplitude is on par with the men. Tuesday, look for Eliassen to work in some new tricks. 'Hopefully I will get them down by tomorrow," she laughed. "I'll get some sevens (720) in there, maybe a nine, we'll see.'

Burke is the only woman throwing a nine in the pipe, and her other tricks are smooth and with amplitude – she is a consummate pro and one of the best in the world. If anyone can beat Burke, bet on Eliassen. In 2003, she was racing junior World Cup events and freeskiing events and taking podiums in both. Most recently, she won women's slopestyle at the U.S. Open last week (and 2005), and she won X Games pipe in 2005.

The men's field is stacked with all-stars. The two favorites – Tanner Hall and Simon Dumont – both fell prey to massive injuries last year (Hall broke his heel, Dumont his pelvis), and both returned to competition last week at the U.S. Open. Dumont was going big in training, though not that big for him, and his run includes a huge truck driver (holds both skis at once) 540, an unnatural 540 mute grab, a corked nine, an alley-oop flatspin 540 and a 1080!

'Usually I'm the kind of guy who just goes out and charges for the four hours of training, so I'm trying to smarten up a bit. I just came out and skied seven runs, and I probably skied the best pipe of my life, so I'm pretty psyched for tomorrow," he said. "I'm not going super big; I'm just trying to get the rotations down. I feel really good this year; I'm just hoping my body holds up – that's the only thing I'm worried about.'

Also look for Laurent Favre, Thovex if he is really OK, Andy Woods and Charles Gagnier to throw down. Still to come Monday night is men's snowboard halfpipe finals.

Winter X Games Monday results

Men's snowboard finals part 1 (X-speak for semifinals)

1. Mason Aguirre – Duluth, Minn.
2. Louie Vito – Bellefontaine, Ohio
3. Shaun White – Carlsbad, Calif.
4. Danny Kass – Mammoth Lakes, Calif.
5. J.J. Thomas – Golden, Colo.
6. Antti Autti – Rovaniemi, Finland
7. Chad Otterstrom - Breckenridge, Colo.
8. Risto Mattila – Helsinki, Finland
9. Mike Goldschmidt – Stratton, Vt.
10. Scotty Lago - Seabrook, N.H.
11. Luke Wynen – Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

Top 10 finishers advanced to finals. Otterstrom dropped out at press time, so Wynen advanced to finals Monday night.

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