This afternoon's pipe finals were actually semi-interesting, largely because the short pipe in Norway meant some of the guys were only getting 4 hits and nobody got more than 5 which messed with the judging a little. One thing that was starkly apparent this afternoon was the massive gulf between the top guys in halfpipe and the rest. Whereas in slope nobody can afford to take it easy, most of the qualifiers today only put down 'basic' runs which were still enough to put them ahead of the rest of the field.
I missed quite a lot of run 1 (due to vino y pinchos) but I checked in just in time to catch Alex Ferreira go first with a pretty technical run. Before that, Byron Wells had a super strong run but crashed on his last trick. Joff had some bobbles in his run but there is no question he is the most entertaining guy to watch ride pipe right now. Aaron Blunck looked underscored for his run to me, maybe he missed some grabs but his switch to switch dub 9 is crazy. Benoit Valentin stomped a pretty stock run, pretty clean for 2nd, formulaic but solid. David Wise also put down a 'restrained' run with right and left dub 12s, tactical and straight to the top of the leader board. Torin only got the 4 big hits, I liked it, judges less so... 5th. Kevin Rolland 'allez'd' his way in to first with two left dubs and only 4 hits, which was odd. Gus crashed on his switch dub to end the round and left a lot to do for the second runs.
Nothing much changed for the first few runs, some bails, some flails etc. It seems at this point like there is both a huge gulf in halfpipe between the top 8-10 guys/the rest and at this event, quite a few big names missing. Jacob Beebe had a pretty cool run, no dubs but all 4 spins and good grabs, pity not to see him score a little better. A highlight of the whole afternoon was the 'not-Luke' commentator calling Taylor Seaton, T-Swizzle, so close to street cred. But he 'shook it off' and stomped his run, with good grabs clean for an 80.00 and 6th at the time.
Byron Wells threw down with style, tech and just some damn cool skiing, but he couldn't quite stomp his run clean. It was genuinely sad to see him not make the finals because like his brothers, he makes skiing look good. JPV was another skier in that category and went HUGE, with an average height around 20ft according to Luke VV. The Judges took a while but decided that his 4 hits were not good enough for the finals.
Aaron Blunck put down his run again for an 80.66, to go 6th bumping Sizzle down the pecking order. Benoit Valentin stepped up the amplitude on his first run to increase his score and make it back to 2nd only to be immediately knocked back down again by David Wise. Torin is another guy who makes skiing look really ridiculously good looking, especially the alley-oop flat 7 on his last hit and it's great to see him boost his score and make the finals. Gus Kenworthy dropped last, 4 hits, two perfect doubles one less hit, very clean, 87.0 for second place. That left the qualifiers as follows: