By: Erica Kelleher
Most 16 year olds have a lot to look forward to – getting their Driver’s License, going to prom, and spending tons of time with their friends. However, Aaron Blunck, a 16 year old from Crested Butte has much more to look forward to…. competing in the X Games finals tonight. Aaron, a Crested Butte Mountain Athlete and local is going to be a contender in this evening’s men’s ski SuperPipe finals on one of the biggest stages of freestyle skiing competition!
I was fortunate enough to see yesterday’s X Games qualifying round in person. Because of Aaron’s stellar performance yesterday in the qualifying round, he is now competing in the Men’s SuperPipe finals tonight. Here’s a recap of the morning:
8:45 AM: All geared up in a Crested Butte Mountain Resort beanie, shirt and buff, I boarded the bus to Buttermilk for “The Event.” I was so excited!
9:00 AM: The bus pulled into Buttermilk – My jaw immediately dropped in awe of the incredible sights in front of me - jumps bigger than modest homes, snowmobiles flying stories through the air, and a snow cat winched onto a mega snow structure at a very steep angle. X is for extreme, and that’s what X Games is all about! It finally hit me that “I was at the X Games!”
9:15 AM: We made our way to the base of the SuperPipe and watched Aaron take a warm up run. He did very well, but you could tell he was slightly nervous… something to certainly be expected when you compete in your first X Games, no matter how old you are! After Aaron’s first warm up run, we saw Tanner Hall and Simon Dumont, big names in the skiing world, take their warm up runs.
9:45: We saw Aaron take another run. It was stronger than the last one, and even if he was nervous, you couldn’t tell. As Aaron took his skis off at the bottom of the pipe, his game face was on. Aaron was ready – let the competition begin!
Note: Click on images to view full size photos.
10:15: ESPN was in front of us filming DC, the announcer, talking about the level of competition. The crowd was getting bigger. It was incredible to think that Aaron was just minutes away from competing in his first X Games.
10:30:Five skiers went and then it was Aaron’s turn. His run was solid, but he “decked it,” which meant that even though his run was great, some points got docked. I was psyched to see him do so well, no matter what his score was. Lots of skiers were falling, and Aaron didn’t. After the first round, he was in eleventh place and needed at least eighth place to make it to the finals.
11:15: 15 skiers later, it was time for Aaron’s second run. Our cheering section, comprised of Aaron’s family, friends and classmates, was going crazy! This was his chance! He dropped in on the right side, did a right side 9, then a left side 9, double cork 1260, alley oop flat spin, a right side 10, and at that point – it just seemed like he “had” to make it to the finals. Here’s a shot of Aaron awaiting his score.
Shortly before Noon: Aaron’s score of 76.33 was going to guarantee him a spot in the finals! His Aunt Mary was crying. His classmates were cheering. It was an exciting moment! 16 year old Aaron Blunck from Crested Butte beat household names to make it into the X Games finals!
After the Competition: Aaron’s family had tears in their eyes out of pride and excitement. Aaron’s grin was from ear to ear in appreciation of this amazing accomplishment!
Aaron will compete at 8:30 PM MST tonight (1/24/13) on ESPN.
About the Blogger: Erica Kelleher is Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s Interactive Marketing Manager. Originally from New England, the incredible mountains of Colorado drew Erica in 5 years ago. She enjoys all that the Crested Butte area has to offer: skiing, ice fishing, fly fishing, hiking, camping, and any other outdoor activity she can do with her dog Echo alongside.
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