ASPEN, Colo. (AP) — Japan's Sena Tomita thought it was a mistake when they placed the gold medal around her neck.
The 22-year-old halfpipe rider won her first Winter X Games title Saturday — the victory secured when the favorite, Maddie Mastro, decided not to take a fourth and final run to try for the win.
While Tomita stood at the bottom and looked toward the starting area to watch Mastro, an X Games presenter came to her with the gold medal. Tomita at first waved her off, figuring it must be a mistake. It wasn't, and now Tomita joins the likes of Chloe Kim, Kelly Clark and Gretchen Bleiler as a winner of one of snowboarding's premier events.
Tomita will be at the Olympics in two weeks. Kim, the defending Olympic champion and a six-time X Games winner, wasn't at this contest as she prepares for Beijing.
So, this stop in Aspen shaped up as a showdown between Spain's Queralt Castellet and Mastro, who has been working on the double-cork 1080 — a trick with two off-axis flips that some believe gives her an outside chance to beat Kim in China.
But Mastro couldn't land either of her double-cork attempts Saturday night. She came in nursing an ankle injury from earlier this season. The falls shook her up, and when her last chance came around, she passed. She finished fifth.
Castellet finished second and Japan's Haruna Matsumoto won her second straight X Games bronze after a final run that included a 1080 and 900.
NOTES: Mark McMorris of Canada earned his sixth gold medal in snowboard slopestyle and broke a tie with Shaun White for most X Games wins in that event. ... The women's big air contest ended the same as slopestyle had the night before, with New Zealand's Zoi Sadowski-Synnott edging out America's Jamie Anderson for the win. ... Tess Ledeux won her second gold medals in two days, adding big air to the ski slopestyle title she took Friday night.
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