Shortly after Josh Dueck crossed the finish line to win Mono Skier X gold Sunday, his two lives converged. Justin Dorey and TJ Schiller, two freeskiing superstars whom Dueck coached as kids in Vernon, B.C., walked up to congratulate him.
"That was the best ever," Schiller said. "Why didn't they open the big jump for you?"
Dueck laughed. Before a failed frontflip ended in paralysis seven years ago, he might have been the one to commend Dorey or Schiller on a gold medal-winning performance. As it is, only one member of the famed Vernon new-school crew won gold this year: the guy who jumps road gaps in his sit-ski.
Dueck's gold was never in doubt. With three-time gold medalist Tyler Walker crashing in his semifinal heat and missing the final, the 30-year-old Canuck led from start to finish. His lead was enabled by a start-gate snafu that tripped up two of the four finalists.
"I felt super bad because somebody got squirrelly next to me out of the start, and I got nervous and squirrelly, and I bumped into the other guy," said Dueck, who was making his X Games debut. "I think that gave me the holeshot, but I felt terrible. That course is so much fun, though. The builders at X build it with safety in mind, but they also build it with progression in mind. So you know you can just point it."
Colorado racer Brandon Adams claimed silver while Great Britain's Sean Rose took bronze, making it three X Games rookies on the podium. Adams failed to clear the knuckle on the final jump, sending his ski twirling through the air as he slid across the finish line. "I scrubbed way too much speed and knucked it bad," Adams said. "That's just unacceptable."
Check full results here.