Kenworthy wasn’t able to repeat the performance in the finals, however, falling just short of the top five, placing seventh overall. Canada’s JF Houle took the gold, coming in ahead of Norway’s Andreas Hatveit and James Woods, of Great Britain, in second and third respectively.
Park City youngster Alex Schlopy finished first among the Americans, just ahead of Kenworthy and Bobby Brown, who took eighth.
The X Games Europe slopestyle event, held on a fresh snow-covered terrain park in Tignes, France, showcased the world’s best up-and-coming young freeride skiers. Once again, Kenworthy was among the chosen few ushered into the high-pressure finals, held under the lights at Tignes/Val Claret with a roaring crowd of nearly 23,000 looking on. At the X Games Aspen event earlier this winter, Kenworthy blasted onto the national ski stage by being the second finisher in the qualification round, but had trouble staying on his feet in the finals and wound up taking eighth overall.
He landed all of his tricks at the Tignes final, but snowy conditions and a slow course got the better of him, and Kenworthy didn’t put together as strong a run as he had in qualifications.
“He was bitterly disappointed again, because he had pinned his hopes on doing well at this comp, after Aspen,” said his father, Telluride’s Peter Kenworthy.
Although he admittedly felt the sharp sting of defeat, having once again been so close to the podium that he could taste it, simply making it into the finals at the world renowned X Games speaks to this Telluride-bred skier’s skill. As his dad iterates, the level of competition is so high among skiers invited to the X Games that it’s more a matter of who’s having a good day, as opposed to who is actually the best skier, when it comes to who lands on the podium at any given competition.
“It’s so highly competitive amongst all these guys, there isn’t a single competitor who is consistently finishing in the top spots. Needless to say, that’s tough – mentally, emotionally, and physically – but there’s no doubt in my mind that Gus will get there,” Kenworthy said.
Kenworthy had been named an alternate for the halfpipe event at Tignes, as well, and was achingly close to winning an invite into that event too, confirming him as one of the sport’s most well-rounded competitors.
This weekend Kenworthy joins freeskiing's top pros and the best amateurs from across the country in Sunday River, Maine, for the third annual Dumont Cup – the biggest pro/am ski event in the world. There, Kenworthy will stand the chance to win part of the $20,000 cash prize purse, joining the ranks of past Dumont Cup winners Tom Wallisch (the 2010 X Games Europe gold medalist in slopestyle, who didn’t make the finals this year), and Alex Schlopy.
Kenworthy is a graduate of the Telluride Ski and Snowboard Club, which has in recent years seen a number of its participants reach competitive apexes in each of its disciplines.