words by Jeff Schmuck
photos by CKO and Jeff Schmuck
Aspen, where as Jim Carrey once said...the beer flows like wine and where the women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. It’s also been home for legends such as Hunter S Thompson, TJ Burke and Dexter Ruetecki…and the X-Games. And today the biggest event in our sport kicked off with a bang with some warm-up on the slopestyle course followed by Men’s Superpipe eliminations.
The slopestyle is manicured, primed, and ready to go. The course is lacking a bit in the quantity of rails, as it starts off with an up/flat/down box followed only by an up-box with a gap off the end. But to no one’s disappointment, the lack of jibs is made up by the airs, as following the metal is a jump line with four large tabletops, three of which Jon Olsson says are bigger than any jumps he’s seen previously at X.
We’ll be giving you a full preview of Saturday’s slopestyle event tomorrow afternoon as practice continues, but the talk of the town tonight was the amazing Superpipe qualifiers/elimination.
Looking back on the event, one would have thought that tonight was actually the finals, with the large crowd at the bottom, the TV cameras rolling and the top skiers in the world doing their thing under the lights.
16 skiers took to the pipe to compete for the 10 coveted spots in tomorrow night’s finals, including Tanner Hall, Simon Dumont, Peter Olenick, Mike Riddle, Matt Hayward, Andreas Hatveit, Stefan Thomas, Colby West, Jossi Wells, Sammy Carlson, Justin Dorey, Kevin Rolland, John Symms, Sean Field, Brent Abrams and Xavier Bertoni.
Tanner looks on as Pete gets ready to drop in
Mike Riddle & Jossi Wells
Each skier got two chances to throw down their best run, and with the pipe in immaculate shape as always complemented by the roaring crowd at the bottom, the best of the best didn’t fail to disappoint.
From Stefan Thomas’ style to the technical wizardry of Mike Riddle and Matt Hayward (who have already been killing it on the new World Cup Halfpipe circuit this year), and extremely solid offerings from Andreas Hatveit, Jossi Wells and Kevin Rolland, the qualifiers set the scene for what will undoubtedly be an amazing final tomorrow night.
Of course, to no one’s surprise, the story of the night was the ongoing rivalry between Tanner Hall and Simon Dumont, who’s tug-of-war over Superpipe gold moved forward at full steam ahead.
Simon was on top of his game, boosting larger than ever out of the pipe with his trademark holy shit 5 at the top, to an alley-oop 9, to another silky smooth 9 followed by a flat 5 to a huge and styled-out switch 7 at the bottom. The look in Simon’s eye throughout the day only reiterated how much it means to him to take home gold, and it’s fair to say that tomorrow night no one will be hungrier than him.
But in the end, the night belonged to Tanner, who came to Aspen straight from skiing a month of powder at Retallack and proceeded to tear the pipe a new asshole. Tanner’s run of a rightside 9, to left 9, to a massive flatspin 5, to 1260, to a stylish and huge flatspin 3, into a switch 7 and an alley-oop 9 at the bottom was not to be beat, and after his first run was 12 points ahead of anyone else before Simon dropped in. Combine that with his consistent and undying energy as he cheered on his fellow competitors and his passion for the event itself, and Tanner will be a tough one to beat tomorrow night, although as they say, it’s always anyone’s game. Stay tuned, it’s going to be one hell of a show…
1) Tanner Hall - 95.33
2) Simon Dumont - 89.33
3) Kevin Rolland - 82.66
4) Andreas Hatveit - 78.00
5) Mike Riddle - 75.33
6) Jossi Wells - 75.00
7) Matt Hayward - 73.00
8) Colby West - 72.33
9) Peter Olenick - 72.00
10) Sean Field - 70.00