Words by Jeff Schmuck
Photos by John Vandervalk (http://www.majestyphoto.com)
In case you didn't know, the greatest pipe competition in the history of skiing just went down under the lights in Aspen, Colorado at Winter X Games 13.
In a pipe that Tanner Hall called "one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen," the level of skiing displayed tonight was simply put...too amazing for words.
The 22-foot walls made tonight's event bigger, smoother and wilder than any of the past historical superpipe events in the history of X Games. Not since the first big halfpipe event at X where Candide Thovex and CR Johnson put skiing on the map with their iconic runs was such an incredible night of pipe skiing ever witnessed.
Cutting straight to the point, tonight was Xavier Bertoni's night. The soft spoken and extremely polite young man from La Clusaz, France (home of Candide Thovex) reigned supreme over all, winning the first major event of his career, which is no doubt going to be a long and illustrious one. Xavier roared down the pipe going faster and bigger than perhaps anyone but Simon Dumont, and in the process took centre stage in the endless back and forth battle between Tanner and Simon that has been so prominent at X Games over the past five years. His combination of left and right 9's, 10's, 12's and seemingly everything else in between along with some of the biggest switch hits ever seen landed him on top of the podium with a smile as big as his airs.
Right behind him though was the man himself, Tanner Hall, who was throwing consistently massive doubles on his first hit all night, along with left and right 9's, a gigantic 12, his trademark alley-oop flatpin 3's and a switch 7 at the bottom...all with shifties galore. And when it was all said and done, Tanner again proved that he is the most stoked, classy and gracious athlete in the business, by being just as stoked as Xavier and perhaps even more stoked for the Frenchman than tonight's gold medalist was himself. Check out our latest and greatest episode of NSTV below to see what I mean.
Rounding out the podium was Simon Dumont, who again and as always was going huger than anyone in the field. The highlight of his run was the most picture perfect 12 ever done, and was so smooth it looked like a 9. The Dumont complemented this feat with a smattering of left and right 9's and a dialed-in switch 10 at the bottom amongst a plethora of other flawless tricks.
In a more than respectable fourth place with Justin Dorey, who after putting down a solid first run did his finest to better it, but unfortunately ran into a spot of trouble via popping too hard on his second hits and losing some much needed speed. It is without a shadow of a doubt though that J-Bone will be the man to beat in the future, and with the final Dew Tour stop just around the corner and Dorey in a dead heat with Tanner for overall points, it might be as soon as next month when he may take home the biggest prize of his career.
Taking home fifth place was Colby West, who put down some of the most amazing pipe runs of his life with huge airs to boot, proving that he is one of the hardest working and most well-rounded freeskiers on the globe.
Right behind him was rookie of year Duncan Adams, whose Stefan Thomas-reminiscent style is more smooth and relaxed than anyone I've ever seen. Needless to say, he continues to be one to watch.
In seventh was the turbo consistent and ultra technical AJ Kemmpainen from Finland, who as time goes on will without question prove himself to be one the best pipe skiers in the world, although it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to place him in that category already.
And last but certainly not least with Xavier's French counterpart Kevin Rolland, who showed everyone who was boss in practice by learning doubles on the spot, and stomping them in the middle of his runs. To the dismay of all he unfortunately couldn't hold it all together in finals though, crashing on his all three of his runs but going as big as Dumont and Xavier in the process.
That's all from tonight's men's superpipe finals. Keep your eyes glued to the site over the next few days as tomorrow will see another round of practice for slopestyle before the ladies take their turn in the massive stunt ditch at tomorrow night's women's superpipe finals. Hang tight, and check out the newest episode of NSTV below.
1) Xavier Bertoni - 93.66
2) Tanner Hall - 92.00
3) Simon Dumont - 91.00
4) Justin Dorey - 83.33
5) Colby West - 79.33
6) Duncan Adams - 74.66
7) AJ Kemppainen - 72.33
8) Kevin Rolland - 50.00
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