Blunck’s fourth place finish at X Games goes beyond the pipe

$17,885 raised for Living Journeys and skiing for Kyle

[  by Than Acuff  ]

Watching the Superpipe finals at the X Games in Aspen on Sunday, January 29 it appeared as if Aaron Blunck had secured a spot on the podium, if not the win. Blunck was the final competitor to drop into the halfpipe and laid down what appeared to be a near flawless run but when the judges’ decision popped up on the screen, Blunck ended up in fourth place overall.

Ultimately though, none of that mattered to him as there was something bigger than X Games results for Blunck. There was Living Journeys leading up to the event and then there was his friend Kyle Smaine, who passed away in an avalanche in Japan the day of the event.

As a part of the Living Journeys athlete corps, Blunck dedicated his effort at the X Games to raising $15k for Living Journeys and ultimately bringing in $17,885 to the local non-profit. During that time, he also learned that he had a broken humerus. Upon consulting his doctor, he was given the green light to compete. Still a bit hesitant, he then got another boost with the amount of donations that had poured into Living Journeys.

“I couldn’t believe the support that came in,” says Blunck. “It just lit me up.”

Blunck admits he wasn’t feeling at the top of his game during the X Games Superpipe finals Sunday, January 29 and he struggled in his first three runs of the event.

“I was tired, my body was sore and beat up,” says Blunck. “Just didn’t have it more or less.”

Then, following his third run, he learned of the passing of his friend and fellow competitor Kyle Smaine when they put a memorial to him up on the big screen at the competition.

“I just dropped into tears,” says Blunck. “I was just in shock, I couldn’t hold it together.”

It was at that moment that Blunck then reached a new level of skiing as he decided, once again, it was time to ski his last run for something bigger than X Games hardware, something bigger than himself. After committing himself to the larger cause of Living Journeys leading up to and during the X Games, his fourth and final run was for his friend.

“I just had to get over it, I knew that is what my buddy Kyle would want me to do,” says Blunck. “I poured every last ounce of energy into that final run. I was skiing from the heart. I just went into this flow state.”

Blunck said during that run that he had a feeling that he had never felt before.

“During those 35 seconds I felt so energetic and so calm,” says Blunck. “It was a really special moment. I felt like I had unlocked a new part of my brain.”

Once he skied into the finish, Blunck believed he had sealed the deal. That the win was his. Only to find out that the judges felt otherwise as they ranked him fourth overall.

“Result aside, I was on cloud nine,” explains Blunck. “I just landed and aced that run. I had skied for Kyle who is near and dear to my heart and for the Coburn family who are near and dear to my heart. It was one of the most memorable moments I’ve ever had in skiing.”

Blunck is on the road now headed to another halfpipe competition at Mammoth Mountain with Kyle heavy on his mind. Running on “Rock Stars, water and a dream to keep this spirit alive,” he’s heading into the competition with more purpose than he has felt in a while, maybe ever.

“I don’t want to say I got a chip on my shoulder but, I got a chip on my shoulder going in,” says Blunck. “I’m going to ski harder than I’ve ever skied in my entire life. I’m going into this week so hungry, I’m going to put it all out on the line. Just go take it. This one’s for Kyle.”

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