Of Camaraderie and Miserable Conditions: The Grand Prix of Halfpipe Skiing
Words: Josh Bishop
Photos: John Vandervalk & Josh Bishop
Pipe competitions thrive on speed, amplitude and perfect visibility. The ability to spot landings, grab rotations and obtain enough amplitude to initiate tricks is drastically hindered by precipitation. At the top of the course, you’re nervous, there’s very little food in your system, and your sole focus is making it down the pipe.
Justin Dorey & David Wise
Hundreds of fans, thousands of online viewers and all your sponsors look on as you slip into the start gate at a nationally televised event. With fresh snow and flat light, differentiating between the pipe wall and the sky is nearly impossible as competitors send their most difficult tricks hit after hit. Some athletes stomp the best runs of their lives, others bobble slightly on otherwise perfect runs, while some struggle with horrific falls, equipment failure and difficult conditions.
As a result, the bottom of the pipe is an endless symphony of high fives, indescribable stress, pain, suffering, pure joy, and genuine camaraderie. Male or female, veteran or rookie, super pro or unpaid, criticized or well liked, all competitors know the sacrifice of skiing their absolute best in front of friends, family, and the world. More significant than medals, podiums, and well-deserved exposure, competitions push the sport, encourage highly talented athletes to ski with absolute perfection, and enhance the bond between individuals who thrive in a sub-culture completely removed from reality.
Justin Dorey & Simon Dumont
Today, the Grand Prix of Halfpipe took place with crippling flat light, falling snow, and poor visibility. Competitors were forced to change their runs, wrap out of rotations, and do anything possible to survive the stressful conditions. Thankfully, the impenetrable camaraderie between athletes overshadowed the negative aspects of the event. In the end, Justin Dorey won the gold with an incredible run highlighted by a dub 12 safety, back-to-back rotations, and an inhumane ability to stop tricks.
Unlike grabbing mute or blunt, grabbing safety provides no additional momentum and becomes highly difficult as you increase amplitude, speed and number of rotations in a trick. In second, fellow Canadian Halfpipe Team powerhouse Mike Riddle stomped lofty airs, flawless grabs and one of the most ascetically pleasing dub 12 mutes in pipe skiing.
Winning the bronze medal, Simon Dumont was able to overcome an injury sustained in qualifiers and absolutely destroy his run with trademark amplitude, well grabbed rotations and well executed switch hits.
Other highlights include AJ Kemppainen’s incredible pipe prowess and fluid style, Torin Yater-Wallace’s ability to boost higher than competitors double his size, David Wise’s dub 12 mutes, and Byron Wells inspiring switch hits at the top of the pipe.
For the ladies, Roz G took top honors on her 21st birthday and along with receiving a medal upon finishing her run, the crowd sang Happy Birthday to the ever so talented Canadian.
Rosalind Groenewoud after winning herself a great birthday present.
Despite the conditions, Roz was able to boost her signature mute grab on her first hit, stomp back to back 5’s, a baller 900, and maintain enough speed for a switch hit at the bottom of the pipe.
In second, Jen Hudak fought through a recurring knee injury to lay down a solid run with smooth 7’s, 9’s and solid amplitude, while Jess Cumming stomped her run with ease and earned her bronze medal on the podium.
Other notable tricks include Dania Assaly’s cork 9, Devin Logan’s flairs, and Angeli VanLaanen’s 5 mutes.
When all was said and done, the proper individuals were standing on the podium and in the words of TJ Schiller, “I am 115% happy with today’s event, everyone crushed it and Dorey’s dub 12 safety was perfect.”
As the future of pipe skiing remains uncertain, right and left rotations, switch hits and insanely large, well-grabbed doubles will continue to win events. For everyone that skied in today’s event, well done. Remaining calm and focused in less than favorable conditions is by far the most difficult aspect of competition.
Mike Riddle (2nd), Justin Dorey (1st), Simon Dumont (3rd)
1) Justin Dorey
2) Mike Riddle
3) Simon Dumont
4) Tucker Perkins
5) AJ Kemppainen
6) David Wise
7) Byron Wells
8) Thomas Krief
9) Torin Yater-Wallace
10) Benoit Valentin
11) Patrick Baskins
12) Dan Marion
Jen Hudak (2nd), Rosalind Groenewoud (1st), Jess Cumming (3rd)
1) Rosalind Groenewoud
2) Jen Hudak
3) Jess Cumming
4) Brita Sigourney
5) Dania Assaly
6) Jamie Crane-Mauzy
7) Anais Caradeux
8) Maddie Bowman
9) Kimmy Sharp
10) Angeli VanLaanen
11) Keltie Hansen
12) Devin Logan