X Games | USA
What else can I say about X Games – I won!!! I am still pinching myself about the result. Ever since I went to X Games as a kid and saw Russ Henshaw win Silver in Ski Slope he inspired me to compete at X Games and showed me that even an Aussie could win a medal!
I have been to two other X Games the first was in 2014 just before the Olympics, I got my invite as an alternate and was so excited! About a week before the event I got my call up into the start. It was about 3 weeks before the Olympics and in my first training run at my first X Games BOOM I blew my ACL!
I recovered from the injury and got the invite for 2015 as an alternate again and this time I got through training and got the call up into the race due to an injury to another competitor the day before. I got into the start but got taken out early in the first heat.
2016 came around and I did not get an invite in the first wave of athletes and I was pretty nervous that I was not going to get an invite. Finally I got that magical invite into my inbox again as an alternate. A couple of weeks out I got the nod that I was going to start and from that moment my focus was X Games – I was not going to screw this up – they say ‘third time lucky’. I was on the World Cup Circuit and was not setting the world on fire but I knew I was riding well.
I knew what to expect when I turned up in Aspen, I was focused on winning Gold to get some redemption for the faith that X Games had put in me but I was also riding for my mate Angel in OZ who had suffered a traumatic brain injury, I told him I would win the race for him!
With the help of my wax tech Blake Lewis I was able to get the fastest time trial result which gave me gate choice for the finals. I knew this was going to be important so I ticked my first box.
On race day everything is running based on a TV schedule and you have to be patient and not worry about what is going on around you. I just focused on my first race, I got a good start, raced well and finished the quarter final in 1st.
The semi final came around and in any other race it would be a final, I stuck with my plan and finished the race winning again!
Finals time and that is when it starts hitting home – I got some great advice earlier in the day from American Mogul Skier Heather McFee and I just replayed what she said over and over again in my head and did not worry about anything else.
The start was fast and I got the hole shot, I was still in front until about the half way mark when I started to make a few fundamental mistakes, that’s when I got overtaken into third and then into 4th with Trevor Jacobs getting past me. I was not giving up and just kept working every feature to generate speed to keep up. I got back into 2nd past Alessandro Hammerle and Trevor Jacobs, I was in second going into the final jump but was never going to give up, I took the inside line and compressed the jump as much as I could and beat another Aussie Alex Pullin over the line. I immediately knew I had won and I might have been a little bit over zealous with my expletives but I seem to be forgiven for that. I remember every moment from that point and will saviour it forever but there are some special moments that I will especially cherish. When you have your idols Seth Wescott, Pierre Vaultier and then X Games legend Nate Holland congratulate you then it sticks with you forever! When Nate Holland pulls you aside and says “Congratulations and welcome to the Club but just remember you are only keeping that Gold Medal warm until next year – because it is mine” it means a lot! Most of the time Nate is messing with with me but the way he went out of his way to congratulate me just demonstrated what a great ambassador he is for our sport.
Having my name called out as the 2016 X Games Gold Medallist at the medal ceremony was so sweet and to be finally be given my Gold Medal to keep was awesome and then to be given the Gold X Games D’Angelico guitar was even sweeter. I can’t play the guitar but the guy from D’Angelico had been given me lessons all week in the Athlete Lounge and I told him throughout the week that I was gonna take one of those babies home with me!
To be the youngest person to win X Games in Snowboardcross and the first Australian Male to win a winter X Games Gold Medal is a huge accomplishment but just so you know Nate – I intend to keep the Gold Medal for a lot longer but I am happy to race you for it next year.
You don’t win races without support and I am incredibly blessed to have the support of the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia (OWIA), the NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS), Kessler, Tom Carter from Human Performance and my Platinum sponsor my Family. I especially want to thank Blake Lewis my legendary wax tech who was on point for the whole event, my Physio from OWIA at the event Chad and Ashley Mercur my Physio who has been managing my knee rehabilitation for the last two season and kept me sane!