Marino shines with gold, bronze in X Games debut
The television cameras could barely capture the wide smile of Westport native Julia Marino as her reaction was filmed in front of hundreds of thousands of viewers on ABC. In a matter of moments Marino became the star of the competition that the snowboarder grew up watching every year with dreams of someday reaching the top of her sport.
Delivering during her first performance at the X Games in a big way, Marino won a gold medal in the slopestyle finals Saturday while adding a bronze in the big air finals Thursday at Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen, Colorado.
It was no ordinary achievement, either. Marino became the first female to land a Cab double underflip in X Games history, which she did to seal her gold in slopestyle with a score of 94.66. Marino also became the first female to win two medals at an X Games since 2000.
"I came in with the goal of doing my best because when I got invited to X Games, that was an honor in itself," Marino explained. "When I got bronze in big air, that was a huge accomplishment. I was happy to go home with that kind of title; when I got gold, it was an even bigger accomplishment and I still can’t believe it."
Marino leaped to the top of the leaderboard with the magical second run down the course. She fell hard to the floor in her first, though, eliminating any margin for error.
"I was pretty flustered because I had nailed my run so many times in practices," Marino said. "But I was more fired up to put down my run and I just told myself ‘I’m not falling again, I know I can do this.’"
When the final competitor notched a score lower than hers, Marino discovered she had won.
"Everything went really quiet, it was surreal," Marino said. "All my friends just started hugging me; it was such a crazy moment. There were so many emotions running through me when they announced that I won."
One of the performers the 19-year-old Marino beat in the slopestyle event — an obstacle course that features rails and a pair of hills —was Jamie Anderson, the 26-year-old Olympic Champion who resembled something of a role model to the up-and-comer. Marino first landed the cab double underflip early last year in Quebec, where she trains with coach Max Henault, and did so in competition for the first time at the world championships last March.
"It’s not sinking in," Marino said. "It’s been a crazy couple of days; last week was the craziest time of my life for sure."
Marino doesn’t have much time to celebrate the achievement, though. She will compete at Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Lakes, California this week — one of the events that will have a major say in Olympic qualification. The 2018 Winter Olympic Games is about 12 months away and Marino’s schedule is quickly becoming filled with competitions.
"I feel good about where I’m at now," Marino said. "I can do more to solidify that spot, now that I’ve made a name for myself. There’s more I can do with a whole year away; I have to keep pushing myself and definitely hard worker."
Marino cemented her place as one of the best in the world with her performance over the weekend.