Paul Mitchell American Freeskiing Tour- Breckenridge

By Ian Kirkpatrick

The competition today was a good mix-up of pros and unknowns all throwing down "X-Games quality runs." That was directly from today's announcer, Rex Thomas, who made an awesome debut as the man behind the mike. Rex nailed it in calling every trick and was a great alternative to Uncle E.

Breckenridge treated us to its typically freezing temperatures earlier in the day as this single massive cloud hung in the sky and refused to move. By the time everybody's second run had started, the sun moved from behind the meteorological troublemaker and the mercury shot up. The course led through three tables from 40 to 65 feet, a choice between a flat rail and a flat down box, then an S-box. Or, competitors could skip those last jibs, hit a battleship rail, and try their hand at the quarterpipe.

Craig Coker showed up today. He put down some of his signature, very stylie runs and spent the finals entertaining everybody by disastering the flat section of the battleship rail then boosting the bottom quarterpipe that only a few other competitors really tried. Scott Hibbert was being just plain crazy and kept trying to one-up his last hit poaching the QP.

In what's usually a top-notch park, all the competitors complained of some rough and rutted landings on the way down. Corey Vanular will tell everybody that. He threw down super solid runs, but had some problems a few times near the bottom.

There was in fact a girl's comp today. Sarah Burke won, but she was still a little disappointed. "Actually, there were only three girls, including myself," she said. "Sadly, it's pretty lame. I thought there were gonna be a lot more girls� We all got podium!"

The finals went off as the afternoon progressed. Derek Spong (yeah, I got his name right this time!!!) and an equally young friend of his, A.J. Burton, moved into the finals. Spong ended up in eighth at the end of the day.

John Symms had what some might consider a weird afternoon. He was putting together ultra-technical, good looking-runs, yet missed the top five. Sammy Carlson also put together some really cool stuff on the jibs, including a great 270-on, 270-off on the down-flat box, and barely got booted from the podium. Today was comparatively free of judging travesties, but an audible "Oooohh..." came up from the small crowd when Carlson's score was announced.

At the end of the day, the podium went to some deserving kids. The Norwegian Andreas HÃ?Â¥tveit served up an awesome, clean cab 1080 (a main course for the afternoon and apparently this season) in addition to some switch-ups on the box and a 450 off the S-box. Vail local John Spriggs threw cab 7s both ways, a cab 10 and took some velvety flares to the questionable quarterpipe. He got second AND will qualify for the Gravity Games only miles away at Copper Mountain, March 3-7. Possibly someone nobody ever saw coming took the top honors and top cash. Tom Dolezel seemed to be fueled by just making it into the X-Games last week, and was the only competitor to clear cab 10s on the middle table, not the bottom.

Tomorrow everybody drops in to the Superpipe. Let's just hope everybody--at least everybody over 21--doesn't overexert themselves drinking tonight at Freeskier's party and concert. Should be a hot show, with Aceyalone headlining and some sick DJ talent to open. Too bad ski town bars have huge bugs up their asses about 21+.


A relatively unknown Norwegian made his trip across the seas worthwhile today. Andreas HÃ?Â¥tveit (big up to Grete, who put his name in a thread so we got the right spelling) won the Superpipe comp today after taking third in the park yesterday. The Scanner, on some older Scratches, started to get a name for himself a few weeks ago at the Open, but really made his mark on the Paul Mitchell American Freeskiing tour in Breckenridge this weekend. HÃ?Â¥tveit threw one of the most technical switch pipe tricks in a comp, a cab cork/flatspin nine thing.

The hazy layer of cloud that hung over Breckenridge and the pipe today must have been playing tricks with everybody's eyes. It was awesome and disorienting at the same time to see Scott Hibbert boosting every single hit his first runs AND making it to the end of the pipe! Hibbert was throwing a whole bunch of dialed-in spins including fives both ways and back-to-back nines. Unfortunately, Hibbert wasn't able to hold it all together in the finals.

John Spriggs looked like he was about to clinch spots in both events at the Gravity Games. His first runs were getting near the Candide/Simon mark with flares both ways, a perfect corked nine and an alley-oop flare. On his first run in finals though, that alley-oop flare gave him a little trouble and he couldn't have landed on the deck better if he were trying to. Not even a bounce back in to the pipe, just both skis to deck and a hard slap on the back from the snow.

HÃ?Â¥tveit wasn't the only one showing some hope for switch skiing in the pipe. Josh Bibby flowed through some air to fakies into cab 7s, starting to get around eight feet out by the end of the afternoon. Bibby also brought a nice little mix of progression and classic during the last run of qualifiers with a cab three Screamin' Seaman. Craig Coker can ski switch in the pipe too with a couple smooth cab fives a decent ways above the lip.

Again, there were only three girls competing today. I know for a fact that there's at least one girl in Breck (who's on this site!!!) who should have competed. Colorado transplant Elle Forchielli came in third. Another local, Jess Cumming, took second and Ms. Sarah Burke continued her consistent competition performances with a win today.

Probably the best thing about the comp today was that there was only one person on the podium that the majority of NS members would recognize. CVA kid Taylor Felton took third starting out his runs with a huge flare followed by fives natural and unnatural, a cork nine, and sealed it with a cork seven. And Corey Vanular pretty much owns leading hand mute corks in the pipe. He also threw corked-out fives both directions, and wrapped the hell out of a cork nine and ten with that grab for second place. Andreas HÃ?Â¥tveit can now go back to Norway and wait a few weeks before he gets to throw down just next door in the Gravity Games at Copper Mountain.