By Elle Forchielli
Video by Tyler O'Donnell
Breckenridge, Colorado -- After a less than spectacular showing at the US Freeskiing Open the previous weekend, Tanner Hall proved that he still had what it takes to win big at the BMW X3 Freeski Invitational. Medalling in all aspects of the competition (first place in slopestyle and halfpipe, and third in the moguls), Tanner took home a brand new BMW, choosing to split the $15,000 cash prize with the other athletes. Dave Crichton placed second overall and was generously rewarded with $12,000, while third place and its $8,000 prize went to Shoya Okazaki. Rory Bushfield, Hendrik Windstedt, Steele Spence, Jon Reedy, and Simon Dumont were also among the BMW invitees.Photo/Josh Hirschberg
Although Henrik was wearing the golden jersey after winning the mogul competition on Friday, it was Hall who would walk away with it in the slopestyle Saturday afternoon. Hall skied with consistent fluidity and confidence, not to mention his signature style. His runs were the most technically difficult of the event, linking up switch cork 7s, a switch rodeo 7, a misty 9 opposite mute, and as if that weren't enough, a huge cork 1080. And don't even get started on the rails- he stomped every 450 and 630 on and off.Tanner Hall. Photo/Josh Hirschberg
Tanner backed up his showing in the slopestyle event with stylie runs in the pipe. After crashing on his first run, Tanner stepped it up again to achieve the highest combined score. With great amplitude, smoothness, and variety of tricks, Hall mixed up big corked-out 5s, 9s, alley-oops, and flatspins. "This feels so good," said Hall of his pipe run. "I usually come in second. Finally winning one of these... those were the best two runs I've ever had."
Hot on Tanner's heels was Dave Crichton. Although he placed second in the superpipe, DC received the highest single score of the day. His ridiculously technical 9s and 10s combined with huge air and an insane variety of grabs (no two were alike) were the highlight of the event. The superpipe score combined with a solid score from the slopestyle gave Crichton a silver overall. "This is the highlight of the season," said Crichton.
Shoya Okazaki skied consistently in all three events as well, enough to win the bronze, including a second-place finish in the mogul competition.
Although he started off with a solid run in the slopestyle, Windstedt couldn't maintain the same level of expertise in his following runs, having trouble on the up rail and blowing up off a booter in the final run. The crash, combined with a nagging knee injury from the US Open, kept Windstedt out of the superpipe event. Despite the absence, Windstedt skied well enough in the previous two events to secure a fourth place finish. Rory Bushfield also deserves recognition for his pipe antics, which included a 1080 and a third-place finish.
Considering that the BMW X3 Invitational came after a long succession of competitions, the athletes really threw down despite injuries and soreness. BMW and Breckenridge stepped up to the challenge, putting on one of the best events of the season to date.Shoya Okazaki. Photo/Josh Hirschberg
"Everyone from BMW was so nice, and the courses were all on a professional level, it was a great event all around," said Hall of the competition (although with a new BMW in the driveway, we'd all be saying the same thing). Rex Thomas, who judged the competition, was blown away by the comp saying that both the media attention and the generous prize money were great for the sport. "The sponsors are coming out and trying to grow the sport. Everybody's taking care of you," said Crichton.
The BMW Invitational provided the perfect forum for the athletes to step up and show their abilities and the sport's potential, as well as enjoy themselves. "For sure, the nighttime event is dope. I thought they were crazy to throw a night event in Breck. It's so damn cold. But it worked. The energy was there. The lighting was perfect," said Steele Spence. As an added bonus, Colorado finally lived up to its reputation, providing perfect weather and snow conditions for a spectacular competition.Jon Reedy. Photo/Josh HirschbergRory Bushfield. Photo/Josh Hirschberg
- Simon Dumont has unofficially earned the right to call himself indestructible. In his first run in the pipe Dumont landed backseat, hurting his shoulder. He continued to ski, although not to the best of his abilities. Knowing he would not secure a podium seat, he poached the pipe, throwing huge tricks as a crowd pleaser. Everything was going great until he completely decked out, taking hands-down the most brutal fall of the night, and then proceeded to get up and ski away.
- Tanner is in fact giving his new BMW X3 to his mom. Awww.
- While accepting his gigantic cardboard check, Tanner fell off the podium, breaking his trophy. It was great.
- The lights over Brecks pipe were so bright, it was freaky.
Special thanks to the delinquents of Brecks park crew and lift guys, Max, Bill, and Chad.
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Huge thanks to Tyler O'Donnell (legionteamrider) for the video coverage!