Sarah goes big.
Women's Pipe Jam, Gravity Games
By Ian Kirkpatrick
Photos by Ian Kirkpatrick and Julie Weinberger
Video by Courtney Germain
Girls be jammin, girls be slammin! The first day of competition at the new Gravity Games brought the ladies of pipe out. Mother Nature couldn't have brought a better day and the whole field was throwing down. With the jam format and the bluebird, spring conditions, everybody was feeling really relaxed. It seems that with every pipe comp, the girls progress. Those on the media side of things started the day out with a little grumbling. Pretty much everybody was struggling just to get their press creds at the beginning of the day. Even Harvey with his cool new position had a bad morning, just making it to the tail end of the event. "It took me, like, an hour just to get this stuff worked out," he lamented. Don't worry Harvey, NS will pick up the slack for you- you can even poach our video!
There were also some heavy restrictions that OLN and the organizers imposed: no media of the finals, no shots of the winners, and video posted online have to be up for only seven days after the event. Fortunately, there weren't any stormtroopers running around the bottom of the pipe smashing cameras or anything.
These girls were seriously throwing down today, some with quite a bit of consequence. Jen Hudak had a pretty bad day to start, seriously tweaking her knee. Apparently she and Scott Hibbert had gotten into a conversation about who crashes more. Fortunately, Jen made it back to take a few more runs at the end of the hour-long session. Jamie Sundberg, one of the girls who's always out to compete, started to pay pretty hard on her last run. Out of sheer amplitude, Jamie was sitting in fourth with her best run as the time winded down on the jam. After decking on her third hit, Jamie started to use up the rest of the pipe and absolutely destroyed herself the last hit on the left wall. After losing one ski on the deck, she flew to the flats mid-backflip and landed really hard on her back, pretty much folding her body in half. Displaying the good camaraderie among these girls, a few bolted from the spectator area to help Ms. Sundberg out. Fortunately, she sprung right up like nothing had happened.
Jess Cumming, cork 5.
Most of the regular contenders at the girls' comps seem like they favor the jam format. All they really want to do is go out, put down the best they can, try and progress a little and just to see what happens. Today they were all feeding off each other. Newcomer Claudia Bouvier from Vail got thrown in after the Open and came out a respectable sixth, especially for someone who hasn't been skiing in the park for more than a year.
"They took the top two finishers who weren't qualified (after the Open) so me and Gina Gmeiner got in that way," Claudia said. "I was really excited. I was nervous so I went out and did a few more comps. I've just been really nervous until now!"
Showing some of the best progression today, Jess Cumming got fourth place. Not only was she working some spins into the middle of her run, she was corking them out. Her last hit of her best run was a textbook cork seven safety, all tucked up and smooth-looking. Grete- uh, I mean "Deb" (shit, seriously, she grabbed the mic during the podium session and told everyone that she was now Deb!) was going big and threw a few fives into her run to grab third place. Unfortunately, Grete/Deb's side ponytail doesn't look nearly as good as it should, although the re-issue blades are sick.
Ms. Burke had an atypical day coming out in second. Sarah's third hit was huge all day, throwing a five there in one of her runs. The winner though was Kristi Leskinen. While she might not have been going as big as Sarah, her run was butter with a few fives and a seven at the end. Good to see Kristi hold it down, she's been lurking in the competition shadows to come out and strike again.
"I didn't expect what happened today. I came for training yesterday, didn't do any tricks, wasn't really feeling the pipe," Kristi said. "Did one 540 before practice this morning but I just dropped in when the clock started ticking and I knew I had to do my best. I put it all together and I'm really happy."
Hopefully the slopestyle course will open for the guys tomorrow, which wasn't the case this afternoon. Everybody will want some time on the steel during the day to get ready for the rail jam tomorrow night in "downtown" Frisco.
***Watch the video***
Kristi Leskinen, 720.