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X Games: McMorris No. 1, White Struggles In Slopestyle

The Aspen Winter X-Games kicked off Thursday with some slight surprises.

The Winter X-Games got started Thursday with the Jeep Snowboard Slopestyle elimination round. With an 88.66 on his first run, Mark McMorris finished No. 1, qualifying for the next round, while superstar Shaun White struggled, barely squeaking into the qualifying top eight with a seventh place score of 67.33.

Here is the description of Thursday's event via ESPN:

With months of anticipation finally playing out Thursday under gray skies on Buttermilk Mountain, McMorris posted the No. 1 qualifying score — 88.66 on his first of two runs — while White struggled to land his jumps cleanly and finished seventh (67.33). Neither rider attempted a triple cork, which has fast become snowboarding's most technical and electrifying trick and likely will determine Saturday's champion. Eight of the 16 competitors moved on to the final, with a number of big names missing the cut.

Mark McMorris on his way to his first-place finish in the Men's Slopestyle qualification round. The finals are on Saturday.

"I am just so glad I got the first run out of the way," said McMorris, the defending champion, after coasting through a subdued, but stylish, second run. "Now I can just build on that. X Games is so anticipated. I had more to bring, but it was pretty tough light today. I stuck with my game plan and did the run I wanted to do."

That run included an impressive rail sequence up top with switch and forward tricks, then a jump sequence that featured a cab double 900, frontside double 1080, double wildcat and backside double 1080.

White is a five-time X Games Slopestyle champion, so you can't count him out yet. However, he hasn't won the event since 2009.

Peetu Piironien finished second with a score of 81.33, while rookie Max parrot finished third with a score of 75.66. Last year's gold medalist, Sebastien Toutant, and last year's silver medalist, Sage Kotsenburg were both eliminated. Finals are Saturday.

Josh Helmuth is the editor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JHelmuth or subscribe at Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.

Photo Credit: Getty