by Mike Jaquet
reprinted from http://www.freezeonline.com
In another day of X Games firsts, Jon Olsson used technical tricks and super smooth style to claim the first-ever X Games Superpipe Gold today in Aspen. In his first run in the best-of-three run format, Olsson dialed in a flare toxic grab at the top, mixed in two huge airs with grabs in the middle, and capped the run and the win off with a beautiful McTwist 900 to clearly distance himself from Phil Larose (2nd overall) and Philou Poirier (3rd).
Phil, Jon and Philou credit: Mark Epstein
"I did not have many expectations coming in to this today," claimed Olsson. "But after seeing the snowboarders yesterday, I knew I had to go big and mix in the big trick. The (McTwist) 900 was that trick and I am just really happy that I was able to stick it on the first run and get the good score."
Jon Olsson-Tail grab Flare credit: Mark Epstein
After Olsson set the standard in his first run, everybody was playing catch up including the 2001 U.S. Freeskiing Open Superpipe Champion, Phil Larose. Larose threw down the biggest airs of the day in his second run, impressing the judges with the amplitude and landing in second place. Poirier landed on the podium after an injury-plagued season a year ago kept him off the hill a bunch last year and landing him without a ski sponsor for this year's event.
Phil Larose boosts off the first hit. credit: Mark Epstein
"I am just happy and relieved that I did well today," said Poirier. "It was important for me to do well to show that I can still be at the top but I wasn't really feeling confident. But I knew I had my trick and I just went for it."
Philou sticks a McTwist 9 credit: Mark Epstein
That trick was also the McTwist 900 and allowed Poirier to best another skier on the comeback trail, Candide Thovex. Thovex was edged off the podium by the slimmest of margins (79 to 77, Olsson had an 86 and Larose an 85.33). Candide showed that he is definitely back, linking flares with grabs and showing smooth style throughout his runs.
Overall, the skiers were very happy with their performances and the sun for the third run helped put a smile on everyone's face. But the most important point of the day was the fact that all the competitors skied well and established an important new era in skiing halfpipe.
Andy Woods throws a perfect flare. credit: Mark Epstein
"I think we really showed that we deserve to be here and that skiers can compete in the halfpipe," said X Games Slopestyle winner, Tanner Hall. "Who knows? Maybe this will be an Olympic event one day if FIS (Federation International du Ski) stays out of it. They don't like us. But the snowboarders were all wishing us well and they respect us so that is cool. I hope that kids out there see this on TV and are inspired to try it and help grow the sport."
Candide Thovex-Mute grab credit: Mark Epstein
That theme was synonymous on the day as all the skiers watched the snowboard competition in awe the day before. But skiing was the name of the game today and the Aspen faithful cheered on the future of skiing throughout the contest. Unquestionably, we saw the dawning of a new era in freestyle skiing today and overall, that is the most important occurrence to date in the short history of X Games ski competition.
1. Jon Olsson
2. Philippe Larose
3. Philou Poirier
4. Candide Thovex
5. Andrew Woods
6. Philippe Belanger
7. Evan Raps
8. Mickael Deschenaux
9. Greg Tuffelmire
10. Tanner Hall