Everyone here has probably worked out my stance on competitions by now. So bear that in mind when you read this because it might contain opinions. X Games has always stood out to me as the best of a generally bad lot though so I had high hopes. But no qualifiers? Only inviting 12 pipe guys is pretty fucked. P.S. I watched this in Andorra from the Skiers Cup hotel, the wifi is questionable so I may have missed some small moments.
The first run I properly saw was Byron Wells (only Lyman Currier had landed at this point) , who had a slightly sketchy landing on his first hit but put down a clean enough run to go first, only to be immediately bumped by Alex Ferreira's 4 dub run. Seeing Torin put down a run after all his health issues was awesome but only good enough for 3rd at this stage. And then Gus Kenworthy happened, 91.33, 4 dubs, first place, super clean style riding the pipe too. Wise crashes first hit, Rolland crashes last hit and we're through run one. At this stage the 'fairy tale stories' of X are already dragging a little and we've got 2 more runs to go. The landed runs were pretty impressive as sporting feats but only 4 out of twelve runs were landed, to me that doesn't feel like a sustainable sporting spectacle.
Run 2, Lyman Currier put down a super smooth run, with some awesome grab variety pushing up to 3rd as things stand. Jason Arens matter of fact scoring comments are a major highlight so far, it's actually really cool to hear from the judges real time. T-Sizzle nearly put down an absolute banger, including a huge down pipe 3, but fell on a last hit dub. Benoit Valentin went BIG (not JPV big, but big) on his run, massive first switch hit bumping him all the way up to 2nd. Byron Wells knocked out the best pipe drop in I've ever seen coping lipslide to switch to massive switch hit. Alex Ferreira stomps a second repeat of his run, massive pole swing celebration as per usual, he went bigger than run one but missed a couple of grabs and so doesn't boost his score. Gus Kenworthy is not human. It isn't actually my kind of thing but his second run was flawless, only bumps his run by 1 point somehow. Wise lands his second run but it's sketchy, Rolland doesn't, on to run 3.
Aaron Blunck has the craziest switch downpipe dub 9, probably the most interesting dub of the contest but can't put a full run together. It's crash after crash for run three, the first guy to land is Alex Ferreira but he doesn't improve. Tooorin stomps his run, it's beautiful as ever only good enough for 4th though. I called it third but honestly, I can see why it wasn't. Gus doesn't put down his run this time, an injured David Wise can't put it down. Alllez, allez, allez, hup, hup, hup... French race stoke does it for Kevin Rolland and he stomps his run with revert to 180 flail pipe exit. The French pipe coach's celebration is the worst, fuck that dude. But the run, it's good enough for FIRST. Calling it now, that's complete bullshit. Gus had a cleaner, smoother run and didn't flail his way out of the pipe. To top it off, only 3 people landed their 3rd run... I'll leave that there opinion free for you to interpret however you please. There were some rad moments and a lot of filler. There has to be a better solution to mainstream freeskiing contests and we're aiming to find it.