By Elle Forchielli for Newschoolers.com Snow was already falling heavily on Sunday morning when the crowds began to assemble along the X-Games VIII slopestyle course. Meandering over from the endless expanse of sponsor tents and the alluring prospects of free schwag, people of all ages slowly began to fill out the empty spaces in the spectator area at the base of Buttermilk Mountain. Although they were no match for the previous days’ numbers, a solid amount of dedicated fans showed despite the biting temperatures and torrential snow. This year’s course included the “stairzillaâ€? rail, a switch hitter/downkink option, a snow-clad c-box, followed by the dealer’s choice jump, as well as the sex change and “stairilizerâ€? rails, ending with, of course, the money booter. A constant buzz served as a backdrop for the incessant announcers, who finally declared a start to the Skier Slopestyle event. The skiers launched with perhaps a certain amount of reservation, considering the inclement weather, but that didn’t stop the pros from throwing down. The first round of the prelims topped out with Simon Dumont’s, representing Bethel, Maine, score of 90. C.R. Johnson threw a huge 180 tail grab off the dealer’s choice and proceeded to gap the stairilizer, landing switch, and finishing off the money booter with a 900, claiming second place. Frenchman Laurent Favre threw a switch 9 off the money booter, barely securing him a place in the top ten. Fellow competitors Marc Abma and Charles Gagnier pushed him back to the 10th spot where he clung on for the rest of the prelims. Iannick B. narrowly missed the top 10, topping out at 11th. Disappointed, but equally excited for his buddy, Gagnier, to have made it to the finals, Iannick said that he hadn’t been skiing too well over the past few days. Quebecois Gagnier scored decent marks for his one-footed railslides. Disappointing a somewhat biased public, Aspen local Steele Spence gave a less-than-satisfying performance which cut him out of X-Games glory at 12th place. Big surprises came from Copper Mountain local Nick Mercon, who crashed setting up for the final kicker, blemishing an otherwise solid run. No stranger to competition, Tanner Hall topped out the prelim shocks by stopping mid-course on his second run due to horrible visibility. The weather had worsened considerably since the first run of the prelims, leading to concern over whether the finals would be canceled. Whacking the snow with his pole, Tanner pulled off to the side of the course, content with the 7th place that would take him on to the finals. On his way back up, Tanner said, “It was a little frustrating. I wasn’t gonna hit the jump because if I did, I would’ve landed in the flats, and I don’t want to hurt myself in shitty weather.â€? But who can blame him? Riders had been complaining that they couldn’t tell the landing apart from the sky all day. Carabassett Valley Academy newcomers Dan Marion and Silas Miller proved their style, although it wasn’t enough to secure them entry into the finals. Marion fell on the last jump, earning him 16th place, despite a solid run up top, while Miller, the day’s youngest competitor, finished 17th. Jon Olsson took first place from Dumont in his second prelim run with his usual measured style. Olsson rounded out the top three after the first run, followed by Rory Silva, CR Johnson, Henrik Weinsted, and Peter Olenick. An ever-positive CR said of the snow, “If anything, it’s softening up the landings and slowing you down a little bit, but it’s kind of a quick course this year so it’s actually kinda perfect. Besides, it’s a little cold.â€? As the prelims came to a close, course workers toiled diligently to keep the slopes clear, laying down pine boughs and spray-painting for depth perception. There was some concern that finals would not be held, and that medals would be awarded based on the preliminary results. Jon Olsson was candid in his response that he wouldn’t be bothered by that turnout, considering that he currently held first place. Alas, fortunately for Olenick and Hall, finals were merely postponed in hopes of improved visibility. Supporter and spectator Kristi Leskinen was impressed by the official’s decision to delay the finals and allow the athletes an additional practice run. “Its gonna be hard to judge, though,â€? she added. Slopestyle finals kicked off with a formidable run by Laurent Favre including a hefty 1080 on the money booter, which kept him at the top for some time with a score of 91. Second place was set at 80 by Charles Gagnier, leaving an 11-point window for the other finalists to fill in. Sporting orange hair for this particular competition, Olenick’s podium dreams seemed shot when he came up short on a switch cork 7 on his first run. Aspenites held high hopes for the Carbondale native, visible by a sea of “Pete Olenickâ€? buttons sported by spectators. Rory Silva also cased on his first run, pushing him down the rankings. Dumont’s podium attempts, peppered with smooth rail style and an unnatural cork 5, were stifled by crashes on the money booter. Tanner was pulling out all the stops in an attempt to secure the gold in honor of his mom’s birthday. Although he completed a smooth, solid run, the judges only awarded Hall an 82.33. Johnson could only manage an 80.66, while Windstedt finished sixth. In their second runs, Abma, Gagnier, and Favre failed to better their previous scores, while Dumont and Silva were unable to push themselves onto the podium. Olenick surprised everyone with a silver medal-worthy run which included an unnatural 720 and a switch cork 900. Jon Olsson scored his third bronze with a switch 1080 off the money booter and a switch unnatural 540 above. But Tanner pulled out all the stops for his third consecutive slopestyle gold, pulling together an incredibly solid run marked by a huge 450 onto the downkink, a switch cork 9, and a switch 7 japan on the money booter. Final results 1. Tanner Hall USA 94.0 2. Peter Olenick USA 93.33 3. Jon Olsson SWE 92.66 4. Laurent Favre FRA 91.0 5. C.R. Johnson USA 87.66 6. Henrik Windstedt SWE 86.33 7. Mark Abma CAN 83.33 8. Charles Gagnier CAN 80.0 9. Simon Dumont USA 39.33 10. Rory Silva USA 23.0 For more coverage, check out http://www.expn.com.


Event Coverage