X Games 2022 Snowboarding - Highlights
Snowboarding Expert Shane Holt breaks down all the big-name drama and never-been-done runs from the 2022 Winter X Games.
The 2022 Winter X Games were slated to be an impressive show of jaw-dropping tricks coupled with smooth, flawless runs. With a roster of highly-decorated veterans and young guns itching to unseat their idols, this year’s X Games did not disappoint. Nearly every event recorded NBD (Never Been Done) tricks, and we saw both the Women’s and Men’s divisions evolve.
The big winners this year were Nitro’s Marcus Kleveland and Burton’s Zoi Sadowski-Synnott. Kleveland smoked the competition, scooping gold in both Big Air and Knuckle Huck and pocketing silver in Slopestyle. Zoi further expanded on last year’s proclamation that she is the future of women’s snowboarding by winning gold in both Slopestyle and Big Air.
Judging looked different this year, with most events decided on a ranked choice system. Instead of scores, the judges simply ranked each rider. It gave the event a cool, relaxed vibe, but surely perplexed fans when their faves got bumped.
The other notable point of this year’s games concerns the increasing medal count between the X Games’ most decorated athletes. Coming into the games, Mark McMorris held the record with 20 X Games medals; Jamie Anderson had 19.
Mark claimed an additional gold this year with a flawless run in Slopestyle, but couldn’t reach the podium in Big Air. Jamie didn’t earn any top honors but secured two more silvers. They are now tied for most hardware in Winter X Games’ history, with 21 medals each. We’ll have to wait until the 2023 Winter X contest to see which rider will pull ahead!
If you missed my pregame article, make sure to check that out so you can look back on my predictions!
Recap of the Games
Mark McMorris remains untouchable in Slopestyle. Yet, we saw Marcus Kleveland and Sven Thorgren nearly pull off the upset. Sven landed a pair of Triple Cork 1440s and a Stalefish Back 1620 on the bottom jump line. Kleveland stomped a Back 14, Switch Back 16, AND a Cab 18. Either of those runs would have easily won gold in any other year, but McMorris elevated the game.
While boasting a run very similar to Kleveland’s, Mark’s run was flawless, without a bobble, hand drag, or single degree off on any landing. McMorris crushed the rails up top with beautiful rail-to-rail transfers and destroyed the jump line at the bottom with a pair of Triple Corks and a Backside Triple 1620 to seal the deal. One could argue that Kleveland’s run was more technically difficult but his landings just weren’t as clean.
The big controversy of this year’s X Games stemmed from Zeb Powell failing to place in the Knuckle Huck. While he didn’t land the most technically difficult tricks, Zeb more than made up for it with creativity. During one of his runs, he enlisted the help of fellow North Carolinian, Luke Winkelmann, to be a prop. Luke laid on his back on the knuckle, board strapped on and angled upwards like a mini jump rail. Zeb used the stationary board as a pole jamb, rode up and over Luke, and launched into a wicked, laid-out backflip. Luke put his body on the line to act as the ultimate snowboarding accessory and help his buddy push the creative boundaries of snowboarding. That—plus several other insanely creative tricks—left Zeb Powell as the fan favorite and a seeming shoo-in for a medal. Yet the judges thought otherwise.
In all fairness, Golden Knuckle winner Marcus Kleveland did land the most technically difficult trick with a Cab 720 to Butter to Cab 7 out. The podium rounded out with last year’s event winner, Dusty Henricksen scooping bronze and Fridtjof Sæther Tischendorf earning silver.
While Zeb did miss taking one of his runs due to an equipment change (which had him riding a 30-year-old 185cm snowboard), fans were livid that a few simple flips could place above Zeb. Online petitions began circulating immediately after the contest was over, showing enormous support for Zeb’s originality and creativity. It’s doubtful those petitions will change anything, but his fans want to make their voices heard.
Men’s Big Air
This year’s X Games was the Marcus Kleveland show! He won gold in Big Air with a combined total of 82 points, throwing down a clean Backside 1800 paired with a huge Cab 1800. Everyone was stoked to see Canadian champ, Max Parrot, back in Big Air this year after missing last year’s contest due to COVID. The Burton rider landed an absolutely gorgeous Front Triple Cork 1800 with only 30 seconds remaining in the competition. It was enough to earn him silver, bringing his lifetime X Games Medal count to 14. Rome’s Rene Rinnekangas took home bronze and shut out Mark McMorris’ chance of besting Jamie Anderson in the lifetime medal count.
Women’s Slopestyle & Big Air
Zoi Sadowski-Synnott was THE name on the women’s side of Winter X. Her budding dominance in all contest formats means that we should expect to see her at the top of podiums for years to come. She held off Jamie Anderson in Slopestyle by displaying her impressive bag of rail tricks and slaying each of the base jumps. Up top, she threw a front blunt 450 that earned accolades from the announcement crew. On the jumps below, she tossed down a Switch Back 9, followed by a Front 10 Double Cork Mellon, and dropped the hammer on the final jump by sticking a beautiful Back 10 Double Cork. It was the most technically difficult run ever seen in a women’s Slopestyle competition. Even though she cleaned up her run throughout the contest, her first attempt would have been good enough to earn the victory.
Yet, Zoi wasn’t done. She wanted more gold, and who can blame her? After years of Jamie Anderson’s dominance, the up-and-comers were hungry to prove they belong.
Big Air was the only event to issue scores. Riders were scored on a scale of 50 points, with their best two rides combining to create their final score.
Anderson landed a Front Double 10 and a Back Double 10 for a combined score of 82. But Zoi would not be denied! With a score of 85, she bested Anderson with a Front Double Cork 10 and a Backside 1260 that were both a bit cleaner than Jamie’s.
The Brothers Hirano stamped their name on the SuperPipe contest with older brother Ayumu snagging silver and 19-year-old Kaishu grabbing bronze. Kaishu went absolutely HUGE with a backside blast nearly 20 feet over the coping. Ayumu’s run was nothing short of amazing. He flawlessly linked a pair of Double Cork 1440s and nearly had a perfect run. Transitioning along the bottom into his final trick, Ayumu slightly bobbled and lost some amplitude on his final 540. Were it not for this fault, it’s fairly certain that he would have walked away with gold.
Then there was Scotty James. Coming off a second-place finish last year, the three-time gold medalist from Australia went fully into the zone and came out the other side with his fourth gold. On his third attempt, Scotty was able to clean up his run to the point that it was difficult to find a single fault. Back-to-back Double Cork 14s, along with the smoothest Cab 1260 ever laid down in a contest, put Scotty James on another level and added to his already impressive medal count.
On the women’s side, no rider from Japan has ever brought home gold in Winter X SuperPipe. But rookie Sena Tomita flipped the script on Saturday by securing the top position with a solid, technical run. All eyes were on last year’s SuperPipe champion, Maddie Mastro, whose run included several trick variants that no other competitors have on lock. It was all but decided that Mastro would walk away with gold again this year, but in each of her runs, she fell attempting a Double Cork 1080. Those falls tweaked a mending injury on the former champion. She decided to forgo her final run, thereby ceding the title to Tomita.
Tomita’s teammate, Haruna Matsumoto earned her second X Games bronze by posting a standup run when much of the remaining field went down in challenging conditions. It was Queralt Castellet from Spain who took silver and wowed the crowd with her huge airs and high-difficulty spins. She boosted a giant backside air along with Backside 900s and a clean Haaken-Flip to end her run. It was enough to stand above all the other riders, except for Sena Tomita who tossed down Cab 7s that were several feet higher than her fellow competitors. A Cab 9 and a beautiful 1080 cemented the end of Sena’s run, along with the victory.
To find out about the ski events, check out X Games 2022 Skiing - Highlights!
Zoi Sadowski-Synnott made her case for being the heir-apparent in Women’s Slopestyle and Big Air. Having the support of Burton Snowboards surely adds to her confidence level by knowing she’s riding some of the most advanced board tech ever made. During the Winter X, Zoi was riding the Burton Hometown Hero Camber, a board from their Family Tree line. Built as a unisex, all-mountain daily driver, this board is made for anything. The fact that Zoi won two gold medals on a snowboard that’s not even considered a ‘park’ board, shows how adaptable and wide-reaching it truly is. No matter how you ride, no matter where you ride, the Burton Hometown Hero Camber offers peak performance in all conditions!
Jamie Anderson was riding the GNU Ladies Choice Snowboard in both Big Air and Slopestyle. GNU says that this is the best snowboard they’ve ever made, and after seeing Jamie’s runs, I believe it. The women’s version of the Riders Choice is a progressive asymmetrical that’s perfectly tuned for freestyle flow. The board’s intuitive asymmetry cleans up the differences between the way one rides toeside vs. heelside. Add in GNU’s Magne-Track rail technology with the C2 all-terrain camber and you’ve got a board that will take your riding to the next level.
Marcus Kleveland is Nitro’s most decorated rider. Whether locking into insane contest runs or dropping mind-melting video parts, Marcus has a quiver of Nitro boards to get the job done. This weekend, he was riding the Nitro Team Pro. This stealthy version of the bestselling Nitro Team snowboard is equipped to provide more pop, control, and speed, allowing Marcus and Nitro’s other pro riders to take their skills even further. If you’re looking for heavy shredability with a bit less tech and cost, check out Marcus Kleveland’s daily driver: the Nitro Beast X. In a collaboration with Marcus’ main sponsor, Volcom, the Beast X has style for days, without breaking the bank.
The biggest gear-related news for Mark McMorris is the fact that he wasn’t wearing purple this year! Mark is known for his propensity to rock Barney-esque colors. He finally mixed it up with an icy white fit, laying down a Slopestyle run that looked like a video game. You may not be able to drop the tricks that he does but you can rock the gear that keeps him looking good on the podium. Simple answer: Burton everything. From baselayer to outerwear, Mark is decked out in Burton’s AK line—the warmest, most waterproof gear. Find out more about Burton’s high-end soft goods.
If you want to ride his board, it’s available but not with the same graphics you saw at the X Games. When you ride as well as Mark, they’ll put anything you want on the board. For those of us who get our snowboards off the rack, the Burton Process Camber is what Mark and most other team riders have under their feet during contests. The Process is suited to the freestyle rider, but still capable of ripping the entire mountain.
Other Notable Snowboard Setups
The Burton Custom Snowboard: Several riders in the SuperPipe competition had Customs under their feet, highlighting Burton’s 25-year quest to make the best freestyle board on the planet.
Volcom Outerwear: With patented technology going into every one of Volcom’s jackets and pants, it’s no wonder they were chosen to make uniforms for the 2022 USA Olympic Snowboarding Team. With their punk-edged style and over 30 years of perfecting gear, no rider’s setup is complete without a few pieces from the Volcom Snow collection.
The 2022 Winter X Games was highly entertaining and provided all the drama you would expect at this level of competition. With highly-decorated veterans adding to their medal counts and the next generation of snowboarding elite progressing the sport, the 2022 X Games did not disappoint. To check out the gear that won gold, chat with a Snowboard Expert here on Curated.