freeskiThovex airs it out for gold

MOUNT SNOW, Vt. -- New course, no problem for Candide Thovex.

The 17-year-old Frenchman grabbed a gold medal in the Skiing Big Air event Sunday during the final day of competition at ESPN's fourth annual Winter X Games.

Thovex and the other Big Air athletes had to deal with some adversity over the weekend. Saturday's preliminaries were postponed because of unsafe, windy conditions on Panhandle Run. Those conditions may or may not have contributed to the back injury suffered by Shane Anderson after a spill during warm-ups on Saturday. Anderson, who strained his back, had to withdraw from the event.

Candide Thovex
Thovex is a Big Air up-and-comer.
The finals were moved to the adjacent Slopestyle course, and shortened to two runs per athlete.

Thovex only needed one jump to mine gold. Completing a 900, Thovex scored 83.00 points on his first jump. Considered by some of his peers to be the most up-and-coming Big Air athlete, he had finished fourth in this event in 1999.

Nobody could match Thovex's 900. Skogen Sprang of Mill Valley, Calif., had a second run of 81.25 points, earning the silver medal. Twenty-year-old New York City native Evan Raps also had a strong second run, scoring 80.75 points with the judges to earn the bronze. Legendary skier Jonny Moseley finished ninth with a best run of 73.50.

Thovex adjusted best to the modified Big Air course. J.F. Cusson, the defending champion who finished 15th, wasn't very thrilled with the new conditions. "I didn't like it, I think the jump was a little small," he said. "It was a little flat, it wasn't that great for me."

Sprang, who also finished second in the Winter X qualifyer at Squaw Valley, Calif., said it was the right move to play it safe and move the event.

"It was kind of weird, but it was definitely safer," Sprang said. "It just didn't look as spectacular, but it was for our expense."

"It took a while to get used to," said 18-year-old Boyd Easley of Flint, Mich., who finished fourth in his first Big Air event. "I thought the jump was nice, a little small, but nice."

Rounding out the top 10 were Vincent Dorion (fifth), Philippe Poirier (sixth), Philippe Belanger (seventh), Tanner Hall (eighth), Moseley (ninth) and Motoki Shimomura (10th).

Skiing Big Air finals
Place Athlete Run 1 Run 2 Total
1. Candide Thovex 83.00 77.50 83.00
2. Skogen Sprang 74.75 81.25 81.25
3. Evan Raps 74.25 80.75 80.75
4. Boyd Easley 69.75 80.25 80.25
5. Vincent Dorion 75.00 79.00 79.00
6. Philippe Poirier 70.50 76.25 76.25
7. Philippe Belanger 66.25 75.75 75.75
8. Tanner Hall 73.75 67.25 73.75
9. Jonny Moseley 73.50 42.00 73.50
10. Motoki Shimomura 70.75 73.00 73.00
11. J.P. Auclair 72.75 43.50 72.75
12. C.R. Johnson 64.25 72.50 72.50
13. Michael Deschenaux 49.75 72.50 72.50
14. Shane McConkey 69.50 41.75 69.50
15. J.F. Cusson 68.00 43.75 68.00
16. Philippe Dion 40.75 42.50 42.50
17. Josh Loubek 33.50 38.50 38.50

 Candide Thovex's score of 83 lifts him to top honors.
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 Candide Thovex was stoked to win Big Air gold.
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