Steamboat Springs' Matt Ladley reflects on strong qualifying round at Winter X Games

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Matt Ladley

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Madeline Schaffrick

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Spencer Tamblyn/Courtesy

Steamboat Springs snowboarder Arielle Gold celebrates after she won the FIS Snowboard World Championship half-pipe competition in Stoneham, Quebec.

— Matt Ladley found himself in the interesting position of being the first competitor down the super-pipe Thursday in the elimination round of the X Games in Aspen.

“As (far as) the nerves go, I like going first,” Ladley said Friday, a day after qualifying fifth, good enough to land him a spot in Sunday's finals. “You start it out and set the bar. But it’s weird with judging. The judges have to figure out where to put you.”

Ladley’s first-run score of 80 (watch it here) was more than enough to secure his position in Sunday’s finals. It became apparent after his run that going early wasn’t a bad thing.

With snow piling up, rider after rider struggled to put down runs. Ladley, who finished eighth two years ago and fifth last year, said he was glad to get a solid first run down.

The pipe started to slow down with the fresh snow, making second runs tough.

“The pipe got really slow,” he said. “By the third hit on my second run, I felt like I was creeping" along.

Ladley now turns his focus to preparing for Sunday. The finals begin at 7 p.m. and are broadcast nationally on ESPN.

Before Ladley takes to the finals, another pair of Steamboat riders will attack the super-pipe Saturday.

Steamboat’s Maddy Schaffrick and Arielle Gold are two of the eight riders in Saturday’s women’s finals.

Each rider will get three runs, with only her best score counting.

Schaffrick finished eighth last year riding on a bum knee. It will be Gold’s first appearance in the X Games. She was an alternate before learning Thursday morning she would be allowed to participate.

The women’s event begins at 7 p.m. and also will be broadcast on ESPN.

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

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