Marcus Kleveland, the comeback kid
Snowboarder wins his fourth X Games title
JO CHRISTIAN WELDINGH
Snowboarder Marcus Kleveland won the X Games Big Air competition in Aspen, Colo., on Jan. 7. Fellow Norwegian Mons Røisland won the bronze medal, while Sweden’s Sven Thorgren won the silver, making the podium 100% Scandinavian.
“It feels insane. I have no words. Being out with an injury for two years and then [to] come here and win my first ever Big Air gold medal feels wild. It’s the best feeling in the world,” Kleveland said.
Kleveland injured his knee in 2018 and made a comeback last season when he won a silver medal in the same competition.
“The way back from a broken kneecap to this has been long, but he has worked hard, and he has shown what he’s made of. I am impressed and proud,” said Per Iver Grimsrud, sports director in the Norwegian Snowboard Association.
The judges gave the 21-year-old’s two best runs, a backside 1800 and a cab 1800, 96 points in total—enough to secure the top spot, one point clear of Thorgren in second place and three points clear of Røisland.
Kleveland had previously won two X Games gold medals in Aspen – both in the slopestyle competition—and one gold medal in X Games Norway. He won the silver medal in the Big Air competition in 2017.
Earlier that same day, Røisland won the silver medal in the slopestyle competition, while Kleveland placed fifth. Both Norwegians felt that they deserved higher scores from the judges.
“To be honest, I was expecting to win after my last run. I’m not disappointed with silver, but my last run felt really good,” Røisland said.
In the freestyle slopestyle competition, Norwegian skier Ferdinand Dahl won the silver medal, only beaten by American Nick Goepper. Evan McEachran from Canada won the bronze.
“It’s my best result ever in the X Games. I am just incredibly happy. I haven’t been able to train as well as usual coming into this competition, and it’s been stressful thinking up runs and tricks, but I’m happy with my performance, the slopes and the result,” he told Dagsavisen.
X Games is an annual sports competition that has been hosted, produced, and broadcast by ESPN since 1995. The competition includes the most popular extreme sports in the world.
The winter sport competitions have traditionally been held in Aspen, and the summer competition is held in Los Angeles, but the competition has been expanded globally since X Games Asia in 1998. Since 2016, European winter competitions have been held in Norway, the first one in Oslo. In 2017, the competition was renamed X Games Norway and moved to Hafjell Alpine Skiing Center in Lillehammer.
This article originally appeared in the Feb. 26, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American.