Words: Jeff Schmuck
Photos: John Vandervalk & Dan Brown
Video: Christian Sander
With barely enough time to think let alone process all the madness that went down in men's slopestyle finals, the stacked list of competitors participating in superpipe eliminations boarded snowmobiles en route to the top of the long, tall and simply perfect superpipe to get things underway.
As dusk turned to night the capacity crowd basked in the glow of the X Games lights, and 16 skiers in contention for tomorrow's finals gave them more than enough reason to be thankful for bearing the nippy weather to watch the finest pipe skiers in the world do what they best. Many of the boys surprisingly stayed away from the doubles, opting to instead put down a series of safety runs to secure themselves a spot above the looming eighth place bubble on the jumbotron.
Missing the cut last night was Matt Duhamel, who fell on both his runs, Byron Wells, who had one of the biggest airs of the night (and it was on the last hit!) but couldn't put it down, and Banks Gilberti, AJ Kemppainen and bubble boy Dan Marion, who all had finely tuned technical runs but that just weren't enough in comparison to the rest of the gang.
Also surprisingly (and disappointingly) not moving on to tomorrow night's finals was Team Canada: Mike Riddle, Matt Margetts and Justin Dorey, all of whom had issues during their runs include two massive crashes from Riddle that had the crowd holding its breath until he got up. The subtraction of these three from the equation will undoubtedly open things up for the rest of the field.
Flying high on the right side of the bubble was Duncan Adams in eighth, who showed everyone what style looks like each and every time he left the ground tonight, Peter Olenick, who continued to prove his perseverance with some of the most large and in charge airs of the night along with two back-to-back switch hits on his way to seventh, and skiing's funniest man Colby James West, who placed sixth after laying down the most technical run of his life and just may have gotten more hits in than anyone else to boot.
Young gun Tucker Perkins was on fire during his first ever X Games, throwing quite the possibly the most cleanly stomped double in a pipe since their inception, and was rewarded accordingly with a fifth place spot.
Xavier Bertoni, who was out of the running until the very last run of the night, put down an epic offering start to finish that included a double at the top, left and right 9's and one of the gnarliest flat 3's ever seen, while his partner in crime Kevin Rolland nailed a mute grab on his huge double to score third place.
And speaking of big, Simon Dumont absolutely went for it last night, much to the delight and admiration of the crowd following his stomach turning crash on a double a few days ago in practice that sent him to the hospital for a cat scan. And although The Dumont left the double in his pocket tonight, he threw down (as always), the highest airs of the night, so look for him (once again, as always) to be a serious threat in finals, and next to unbeatable in pipe high air.
But in the end, the night belonged to Jossi Wells, who after a less than stellar showing in slopestyle minutes before and a jaw-dropping performance in the previous night's big air, showed everyone why he may just be the hardest working and most well-rounded guy in competitive freeskiing. Jossi put down the most technical runs of the night, highlighted by a switch 7 shifty that was dirtier than a back alley in Baltimore, and like most of the boys saved his double for finals.
1) Jossi Wells - 91.33
2) Simon Dumont - 89.33
3) Kevin Rolland - 88.33
4) Xavier Bertoni - 85.33
5) Tucker Perkins - 83.33
6) Colby West - 81.33
7) Peter Olenick - 80.33
8) Duncan Adams - 80.33
9) Dan Marion - 80.00
10) AJ Kemppainen - 77.33
11) Justin Dorey - 77.00
12) Matt Margetts - 72.00
13) Banks Gilberti - 61.33
14) Byron Wells - 50.33
15) Mike Riddle - 34.66
16) Matt Duhamel - 30.00
NSTV X Games - Day 3