Canadians find X-Games podiums 

Double world champion Autti wins again

In its ninth season, the ESPN X-Games has emerged as a kind of anti-Olympics, focussing its lenses on high energy, audience-friendly winter sports that appeal to young fans. With the largest prize purses of any winter events and a huge global television audience, no other contests attract as many of the world’s top skies, snowboarders, or snowmobilers.

The 2005 X-Games at Aspen, Colorado don’t wrap up until Sunday, but Canadians are already off to a strong start.

On Saturday, Vancouver’s Erin Simmons came within a board length of American Lindsey Jacobellis in the snowboardcross finals. Jacobellis was crowned the world champion in Whistler just two weeks earlier, and has now won the X-Games title for three consecutive years. Many of Canada’s top snowboardcross athletes, including Maëlle Ricker and Dominique Maltais, declined invitations to participate in the event, but Simmons, who was knocked out in the first round of the world championship finals, came through with a clutch performance.

In the men’s snowboardcross, only Cranbrook’s Robert Fagan participated for Canada and he finished out of the finals and consolation finals.

The win went to Xavier Delerue of France, followed by world champion Seth Wescott of the U.S. Marco Huser of Switzerland was third.

In the women’s slopestyle, Vancouver’s Natasza Zurek finished third overall. Oregon’s Janna Meyen, the defending champion for the past two seasons, won her third consecutive title. Silvia Mittermueller of Germany was second.

Leanne Pelosi of Calgary and Whistler was ninth overall.

In the men’s slopestyle, California’s Shaun White was almost perfect with two of the top runs of the day. Danny Kass and Travis Rice made it a U.S. podium, as American riders captured all but two spots in the top 10.

Whistler’s Travis Williams took part but did not qualify for the finals.

In the women’s superpipe, Gretchen Bleiler of the U.S. posted the strongest first run. Doriane Vidal of France was second by one point, while Hannah Teter, the defending champion, was third.

Whistler’s Mercedes Nicoll was the top Canadian in 10 th , and the only Canadian to take part.

In the men’s superpipe, world champion Antti Autti was solid once again, edging out American riders Andy Finch, Danny Kass, Shaun White, Luke Wynen and Tommy Czechsin, who rounded out the top six. No Canadians took part.

In the skier slopestyle, Quebec’s Charles Gagnier followed up his U.S. Open win with yet another strong performance, edging out Montana’s Tanner Hall. Jon Olsson of Sweden was third.

Vernon’s T.J. Schiller was sixth, Ontario’s Cory Vanular eighth and Laurent Favre of Quebec ninth.

Other Canadians, Josh Bibby, Iannick B. and Mark Abma, didn’t qualify for the finals.

In the ultracross, which pairs teams of skiers and snowboarders on a cross course, Xaveir de le Rue of France and Whistler’s Davey Barr were second to Marco Huser of Switzerland and Eric Andersson of Sweden.

Nate Holland and Eric Archer of the U.S. were third.

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