Bobby Brown returns to Big Air gold

ASPEN, Colo. -- Two years after he made history by winning gold in two events at the Winter X Games, Bobby Brown returned to the top of the Ski Big Air podium Saturday night ahead of 16-year-old Swiss rookie Kai Mahler and Kiwi style king Jossi Wells. In doing so, Brown became the only skier in Winter X history to win two Big Air gold medals.

Considered by many to be the most innovative big air skier in the world, Brown looked the part on a frigid Rocky Mountain night despite not throwing the vaunted triple cork that so many expected to see. Instead, he used flawlessly executed double-flip variations, including a switch double misty 1260 and a switch double cork 1440. Brown's two-run combined score of 88 points distanced him from Mahler's 84 and Wells' 83.

"I feel good," Brown said after his win. "But then I see Kai almost land a switch double misty 1620 [which would have been the first in competition], come bolts to his feet, and I'm like, 'Whoa, I've gotta learn some stuff.' It was pretty fun. Everyone's at such a high level now that no one person is that far above anybody else."

Brown, one of three skiers in Saturday's field to have landed a triple, left the possibility open right up to the event's 7 p.m. start. But with many questioning whether the Buttermilk jump was big enough to safely enable such a dangerous maneuver, he chose not to risk it on any of his six jumps in the final. Neither did anyone else.

"It's all about consistency," Brown said. "It's not about someone coming out with the gnarliest tricks ever. It's about laying it down when it needs to be [laid down]."

The five-man final was delayed halfway through when Sammy Carlson, one of the pre-event favorites to win gold, exploded on a double-cork 1620 attempt and appeared to injure his lower right leg. The impact torqued his knee under his body and ejected both of his skis, leaving Carlson grasping at his leg. According to X Games medical officials, Carlson went in for X-rays shortly after the final concluded.

Defending gold medalist Alex Schlopy was also missing from Saturday's competition. He pulled out shortly before the elimination heats got underway due to a knee injury he sustained in Thursday's Ski Slopestyle elimination round.

Mahler came in with plenty of hype thanks to standout results in European city big-air competitions last fall, and he lived up to expectations. He secured technical grabs and stuck the switch double misty 1440 that Brown used to win WX Big Air gold in 2010.

"A dream came true for me," said Mahler, who many consider a top contender for the 2014 Olympic slopestyle gold medal. "I'm super stoked right now. I can't believe that I got the podium."

Wells, meanwhile, stood out with a tweaked switch double rodeo 1440 mute that he called "terrifying." He also landed a switch double cork 1080 with a tweaked safety grab that showcased his trademark style.

Gus Kenworthy claimed his second fourth-place finish of this week's X Games following his result in Thursday's slopestyle finals.