Tess Ledeux is flying high ahead of the Winter Olympics after two days of dominance at X Games Aspen. The French skier followed up her historic big air gold on Friday with a slopestyle gold on Saturday and finds herself one of the favorites in both events entering the Beijing Games.
“Incredible,” Ledeux said after winning the women’s ski slopestyle title Saturday morning at Buttermilk Ski Area. “I’m just speechless right now. It’s incredible. It’s just amazing. I’m so happy and it’s a dream come true. My first medal, gold medal, in slopestyle. It’s just a dream.”
The victory was, in fact, Ledeux’s first slopestyle gold medal at the X Games. The 20-year-old from the French Alps had already won three big air gold medals, including Friday’s, but her previous X Games slopestyle record was silver in 2017.
She’s been in tears lately, after winning a low-key slopestyle World Cup in Font Romeu, France, just days before coming to Aspen. She finished second to China’s Eileen Gu at the Big Air World Cup in Steamboat Springs in December and won a Big Air World Cup in October in Chur, Switzerland. She was the 2017 World Slopestyle Champion and the 2019 Big Air World Champion. At the March World Championships in Aspen, she finished fourth in slopestyle and seventh in big air.
But his two X Games gold medals in two days certainly take him to another level with the Olympics knocking on the door.
“I think I was more relaxed today because I won yesterday,” Ledeux said. “I just want to have fun and ski with a smile.
Ledeux’s big air gold on Friday came with a double cork 1620, the first in women’s big air skiing, scoring 49 points out of a possible 50. His slopestyle run on Saturday wasn’t quite as breathtaking, but it was enough to delay his competition, which was missing a few key names.
Last year’s champion, Eileen Gu of China, did not compete at the X Games this year. And Estonia’s Kelly Sildaru, who had never lost an X Games Aspen slopestyle contest in four previous events, withdrew after crashing on the rail section of her first run on Saturday. Sildaru won the women’s halfpipe ski contest on Friday night against Brita Sigourney of California and Hanna Faulhaber of Basalt.
Still, Ledeux had to stand up to Switzerland’s Mathilde Gremaud, a great air icon who now has seven X Games medals after Saturday’s silver, and Canada’s Megan Oldham, the bronze medalist who has now won four X Games Aspen medals in the past two years. Oldham won big air silver on Friday after also winning big air silver and slopestyle bronze last year.
Johanne Killi of Norway (fourth), Britain’s Kirsty Muir (fifth), Maggie Voisin of Montana (seventh) and Sildaru eighth completed Saturday’s slopestyle contest. Swiss skiers Giulia Tanno and Sarah Hoefflin were both eliminated late from the competition, Muir was the substitute.
Then the skiers will head to the Beijing Games, which begin on February 4. It will be a second Olympic appearance for Ledeux – who is a cousin of French halfpipe skier Kevin Rolland, three-time X Games champion – having taken 15th place in the 2018 slopestyle contest in Pyeongchang, won by Hoefflin. New this year is the addition of big air skiing, which will make its Olympic debut next month.
“I’m really excited. It’s just amazing. We’ve got two chances and it’s just perfect,” Ledeux said of having two events to play at the Beijing Games. moment, right after winning two gold medals. And it’s the last event before we leave for the Olympics, so it’s the best way to start the Olympics.