The X Games officially kick off this weekend on January 26th and all eyes will be on Aspen for the next few days as athletes and crowds start to descend on one of snowboarding’s most iconic resort towns. With a world-class announcing crew and the best park riders alive, the Winter X Games is always a sight to behold and this year will be no different. We can’t wait to crack a cold one and watch all the action unfold this weekend. Oh, and you can bet on it. We wouldn’t take our words below for it, we are just fans… and most of the current money lines are different than what we have below. Maybe we don’t know anything about snowboarding… or maybe we will make you a millionaire. Stream the whole thing on xgames.com.
The Favorite: Tie between Mark McMorris and Red Gerard. This is the moment that both of these riders were made for and they can handle the pressure on the big stage, regardless of the conditions. Mark would be going for his Michael Jordan Winter X Games medal at 23 and Red definitely has a fire underneath him to go out and get his first slope gold at X Games.
The Underdog: Rene Rinnekangas. This kid is lightning in a bottle and capable of putting down a score in the 90s if he can stay put down the run he wants to. We all want to see it, and he has been on the podium before.
Final Pick: Mark McMorris
The Favorite: Taiga Hasegawa. This one is anyone’s game but Taiga currently has the most consistent results from the Big Air contest season that already went down this year. Red Gerard and Hiroaki Kunitake also landed on the podium this year at a few of the other Big Air contests so they could easily make a run for it.
The Underdog: Mark McMorris. It is crazy to put a rider with the most Winter X Games medals as an underdog, but why not. He is still holding his own amongst the young guns, and he always seems to come up huge in big moments… but we haven’t seen much from McMorris on the Big Air circuit this year so we figured we could slot him here. And it’s always fun to root for an underdog. Special shoutout to Chris Corning as well. Year after year, the dude shows up big, maybe this will be his year.
Final Pick: Taiga Hasegawa
The Favorite: Zeb Powell. This needs no explanation, nor should it ever. The way Zeb can fly through the air and contort his body and bring it back to his feet every time is like nothing we’ve ever seen before. The kid is electric city in this event. After last year’s closely-contested gold, Marcus Kleveland will sadly not be in attendance to defend due to injury.
The Underdog: Miles Fallon. Explosive, ridiculous pop and air awareness like few other. Jake Canter also always has some fire in him when the competition starts, this year might be his.
Final Pick: Zeb Powell
The Favorite: Tie between Scotty James and Ayumu Hirano. This rivalry is the second coming of Shaun White versus Danny Kass. Every event that showcase these two feels like a heavyweight title fight and we personally cannot wait to see how Ayumu responds to Scotty’s big win last week in Laax. Scotty has the McTwist pullback while Ayumu’s probably hiding back-to-back triple corks and it will all come to fruition in Aspen.
The Underdog: Valentino Guseli. While fellow Australian Scotty James sits atop the halfpipe ranks at the moment, there is a clear heir to the throne in the form of young Valentino Guseli. He’s got the amplitude of Kaishu and the tricks of Ayumu (minus the triple). It was hard to put him in front of Kaishu Hirano, and we wanted to call the a tie, but after Laax, Valentino has the slight edge with that massive 1620, in our opinion. Chaeun Lee would probably hold this spot as he was inches away from putting down back-to-back triples in LAAX but is not on the start list so far in Aspen.
Final Pick: Ayumu Hirano
The Favorite: Tie between Mia Brookes and Anna Gasser. We think it will come down to rails, which we would lean slightly toward Mia, but Anna is on point in the air at the moment, so this was too close to call. Mia was left off the podium in LAAX and definitely wants to ride away with some hardware. And let’s be honest, with no Zoi Sadowski-Synnott in the lineup, it truly is anyone’s game.
The Underdog: Julia Marino. After Laax, it’s undeniable that Julia Marino is ON ONE right now. Her finals run was ridiculous and if she takes that to Aspen, it’ll be very hard to beat her.
Final Pick: Mia Brookes
The Favorite: Kokomo Murasi. There are seven riders who all claimed podium spots this year in the field, but Kokomo is on absolute fire at the moment, and we think this is her year to let the whole entire world know that. Anna Gasser had some early success this year and has a gold under her belt. Tess and Mia are style gods who always have a chance and Miyabi and Reira have talent and guts to go huge. This might be the event of the weekend.
The Underdog: Annika Morgan. Just thinking about the afterparty in Aspen if Annika Morgan took home gold is so awesome.
Final Pick: Kokomo Murasi
The Favorite: Jamie Anderson. Come on. She’s Jamie Anderson. This is the first year of Knucklehuck for the women and if history has taught us anything, it’s that if you see Jamie’s name on an X Games start list, just go ahead and make her the favorite. She competed back against the men a few years ago, and as stated above, it is hard to go against her when she is in the field. But don’t be surprised if Mia Brookes takes it… shes got style and this event might be tailored right for her.
The Underdog: Lauren Derminio. Lolo for PREZ! Lauren Derminio is one of the most exciting riders on the planet at the moment and the world will see that on full display during Knucklehuck.
Final Pick: Lolo
The Favorite: Chloe Kim. She’s the greatest halfpipe rider of her generation, so this is a no-brainer. However, it’s not the Chloe Show as it once was and there is a full field of women that have narrowed the gap she used to hold heading into every event. Still, Chloe is used to the pressure under the big lights and we feel that it’s her gold to lose.
The Underdog: Xuetong Cai. Gaon Choi is not on the list currently and Maddie Mastro took a slam in LAAX. Xuetong earned the bronze last year but Chloe didn’t compete, so now is the time for Xuetong Cai if she can put the run she’s capable of down.
Final Pick: Chloe Kim