Vernon’s Kevin Hill is all smiles after claiming snowboard cross gold at Winter X Games in Aspen

Vernon’s Kevin Hill is all smiles after claiming snowboard cross gold at Winter X Games in Aspen

Hill wins Winter X Games Snowboard Cross

Vernon's Kevin Hill uncovers snowboard cross gold at Winter X Games in Aspen, Colo.

A week after claiming his first-ever World Cup snowboard cross medal in Austria, Vernon’s Kevin Hill struck gold at the sport’s biggest event outside of the Olympics.

The 28-year-old Hill won the men’s snowboard cross at Winter X Games Friday morning in Aspen, Colo. He was the runner-up in 2011, and 14th in 2012.

Asked what the difference was this time around, a breathless Hill told an ESPN correspondent moments after the win: “Confidence, I think. I wanted this win so bad, more than any other win.

“It’s the best one yet. I wanted to win X (Games) more than Olympics, to be honest. I am so excited right now.”

Hill gained the hole-shot (lead) out of the gates, was overtaken momentarily, but surged back in front by taking a great line in the opening two berms. The Sochi Olympian built a big enough lead in the six-man final that none of the other competitors were able to draft off of him.

“It’s really, really awesome,” an elated Hill told the Morning Star. “Best day of my life probably because this is the one I wanted to win  more than any other event.”

Hill said his silver medal last week on the World Cup circuit was a big confidence booster coming into X Games.

“It helped a lot. When I go out to a race now, I don’t just go out to get a podium, I go out to win,” said Hill, adding the conditions at Aspen’s Buttermilk Resort were terrific.

“It was cold overnight, down to about minus-22, but it warms up during the day and it was perfect snow conditions.”

Hill, who pockets an estimated US$25,000 for the win, planned to unwind at the Snoop Dogg concert Friday night before heading home to Vernon to train for a month before the World Cup season resumes in March.

There will be a celebration for Hill Sunday night at Monashee’s Bar and Grille.