Sallinen Makes X-Games Debut as This Year’s Youngest Superpipe Athlete

Jon Sallinen, a Finnish half pipe skier and alumni of the Colorado Rocky Mounrtain School (CRMS) in Carbondale, received his first invitation to the 2023 X-Games, and will compete this Friday, January 27th.

Jon Sallinen is the youngest competitor and only European in the 2023 X-Games mens Ski Superpipe and is in reach of his goal of winning the Games. The difference between the X-Games and other competitions is that instead of qualifying, you need to be invited–it is so exclusive that only eight men are invited to ski Superpipe each year.

Jon is one of the craziest skiers I’ve ever gotten to ski with, he’s really cool to see ski,”

— Owen Nelson, AVSC athlete and AHS student

Jon Sallinen started skiing halfpipe when he was about 12 years old, and trained with the Aspen Valley Ski Club (AVSC) while he was in high school, and ever since then has dreamed of receiving the praised letter of invite.

“I have wanted to go [to the X-Games] as soon as I started skiing freestyle, that’s the main event you always look up to and see it on the tv, in our sport [halfpipe] it’s almost as big as the Olympics,” Jon Sallinen said.

Sallinen at 2021 Buttermilk XGames halfpipe.
(Image by Matt Powers Photography courtesy of https://www.ski.fi/ssf/monen-lajin-hurjapaa-jon-sallinen-asetti-itselleen-kovan-tavoitteen-pekingin-olympialaiset-on-mun-paatahtain/)

As much as getting an invite to the Games is a big deal, so is the process of getting there. Behind the scenes of their demanding performances, being a professional athlete is no easy feat, with rigorous, constant training. Yes, there may not be snow in the summer, but that does not mean it is time for a break.

“We mostly strength train during the summer–three times a week we do strength–but then we do other stuff on different days, so I’d say I train 6 days a week,” Sallinen said.

In previous years, the X-Games have had 111,000 TV viewers, many of them being the younger generation aspiring to compete in the Games. 17-year-old AVSC halfpipe athlete and AHS student Owen Nelson trained with Sallinen while Sallinen was in high school, and has dreams for the games himself. Nelson expressed how he enjoyed being in the presence of Sallinen.

“Jon is one of the craziest skiers I’ve ever gotten to ski with, he’s really cool to see ski,” Nelson said.