ASPEN, Colo. — The Moore brothers simply would not be denied. Neither of them.
On a cold, crisp Thursday night in Aspen, Colten Moore, the youngest of two brothers from Krum, Texas, leaned heavily on the memory of his late brother and best friend, Caleb, to claim the gold medal in freestyle snowmobile competition at the X Games Aspen.
The victory arrived just less than a year after Caleb Moore died from injuries suffered in a violent crash when his snowmobile landed short on a backflip rotation during freestyle competition at X Games 2013. But as far as Colten was concerned, his big brother was right back in the saddle with him on Thursday.
“I just told myself, 'You know what, we're not at X Games. Forget about all this. I'm just going to go out there and ride with Caleb,' ” Moore said after posting the winning score of 91.33 on his first of two laps through the freestyle course. “And he's out there. He's out there riding with me and I'm throwing down better than I ever have.”
Surrounded by a huge entourage of some 60 friends and family waving the Texas flag, there was a simultaneous sigh of relief and celebration as Moore's adrenaline fueled 75-second run came to a finish. With a series of combination tricks and harrowing backflips, Moore was the only rider to score more than 90 points in either of the two-run finals, earning him a victory lap where he paused midway to pay tribute to his brother in a gold outfit to match his second gold medal since winning the contest in 2012.
“I just wanted to be able to come back here and ride for my brother. Not just for him, but with him, because I know he was out here with me all night,” Moore said. “And to be able to come out here and get gold is just unbelievable. I just give it all to him. He was the one helping me to do everything that I was doing.”
After a lackluster first run, X Games veteran Joe Parsons of Yakima, Wash., rallied to take the silver medal with a score of 86.33 on his second lap, besting Heath Frisby of Middleton, Idaho, who placed third at 86.00.
Sam Rogers of Bozeman, Mont., had settled into the third spot with a first-run score of 85.33, before providing the only real scare of the night when his feet tangled just before landing a backflip on his final pass through the course. The crowd fell silent when Rogers took the snowmobile's handlebars to the chest and fell in a heap. But the mandatory chest protector required since Caleb Moore's injuries led to the first X Games fatality last Jan. 31 did it's job and Parsons walked off the course to the cheers of the crowd.
“It's a lot harder to watch this year,” Wade Moore, the father of Colten and Caleb confessed. “It's tough. But they're still doing it together. I can promise that.”