Words by Jeff Schmuck & John Vandervalk
Photos by John Vandervalk
Well kids, it's that time of year again. Welcome to the biggest show of them all, Winter X Games 15 in Aspen, Colorado.
Over the next five days, the Superbowl of winter action sports will be going off at Buttermilk Mountain with snowmobiling, snowboarding, and most importantly to all of us, skiing. The proceedings 'unofficially' kicked off this evening with Women's and Men's Ski Superpipe Prelims, and if what went down tonight is any indication of what’s still to come, just like each and every year at X Games...we're in for one hell of a show.
Up first were the women, who took to the always immaculate X Games superpipe under afternoon bluebird skies that turned into a crystal clear night, and if the weatherman is correct, check this out...it's supposed to be like that all week.
The lovely ladies of freeskiing were given two runs with their best one counting and the best six moving onto tomorrow's finals, while the other five will have to sit back, relax and channel their energy into cheering on their fellow competitors and friends. Within those five were Virginie Faivre, Mirjam Jaeger, Jess Cumming, Maddie Bowman and Keltie Hansen, all of whom skied more than admirably but just didn't have quite the right stuff to land themselves a spot in the big show. Also unfortunately absent from tonight's competition was Dania Assaly, who tweaked her knee earlier today in practice and had to pull out of the competition. Join us wishing Britney Spear's #1 fan all the best.
Taking a lower than expected sixth place was Sarah Burke, who made a triumphant return to the competition scene tonight after being sidelined for the first part of the season with a shoulder injury that required surgery. Anyone who knows Sarah knew that she would pick up right where she left off, and she proved that with authority this evening by launching back-to-back flairs and the most inverted (and gigantic) cork 9 ever done in the history of women's pipe skiing.
In fifth was newcomer Brita Sigourney, who has already been turning heads this winter and turned many more tonight with a 10 foot+ 9 on her third hit and some solid grabs throughout her run, while the always smooth and consistent Anais Caradeux took fourth with fashion runway-like style.
Rounding out the invisible prelim podium in third was last year's X Games superpipe gold medalist, Jen Hudak. After having a slightly rough start to the season after failing to make finals at the first Dew Tour, Hudak scored herself a bit of redemption tonight with a rockstar of a run that included her patented first hit cork 9, a handful of 5's and a huge grabbed 10 at the bottom.
In second was Grand Prix winner Rosalind Groenewoud, who continued her already impressive season with her usual high-flying amplitude and a buffet of smooth spins that included a 7 and a 9.
And taking the top spot was the newest member of the Logan clan to explode onto the freeskiing scene, Devin, who stomped a perfect 9 up top along with a more than determined flair, as you can see the photo below.
Devin Logan, flipping her way into 1st place.
Following the ladies it was the gentlemen's turn to take a crack at the super stunt ditch, and although every single one of the boys put their pedals to the metal, the story of the night was equipment malfunctions a plenty on the assembly line of the world's best halfpipe skiers. Like the women, the 16 men had two runs for their shot at one of the spots in Friday's finals, and when it was all said and done, the list of this year's final eight has a slightly different look to it than we've seen in years' past.
Sadly failing to make the cut tonight were a few names that you don't usually see after this sentence, including Tucker Perkins, who rang his bell in practice and was unable to compete, Mike Riddle, who has having unfortunate binding troubles all night, and Jossi Wells, who after crashing on his first run went for broke on his second by unleashing one of the first ever switch double cork 10’s in competition, but just couldn't put it to his feet.
Also ending up on the wrong side of the bubble was Byron Wells, Taylor Seaton, AJ Kemppainen, Peter Olenick and the always-lovable Matt Margetts, who was having some equipment issues of his own.
Taking eighth was 2009 X Games gold medalist Xavier Bertoni, who squeaked into the finals with a slightly mellower run that we're usually accustomed to seeing from him, leading many to believe that he's saving his best for finals, while style masters Duncan Adams and Thomas 'ToTo' Krief took seventh and sixth respectively with some things that made the crowd go 'oooh'.
In fifth was Simon Dumont, who in a bit of déjà vu of the first stop of the Winter Dew Tour lost a ski on his first run, but roared back on his second to throw two doubles in his journey down the pipe, helping him secure a spot in X Games finals for the 10,000th year in a row.
Fourth place went to good ol' Justin 'J-Bone' Dorey, who rocked everyone's socks off with some of the biggest airs of the night, most notably with a double cork 12 blunt on his first hit followed by some of the most technical pipe skiing in the galaxy.
In third was the young machine gun Torin Yater-Wallace, who has really made the most of his win at Gatorade Free Tour Finals last year and then some, and came all guns and dub 12's a blazing into the pipe just as the ink was drying on his brand new Target contract to show why he's going to be a force to be reckoned with for many, many years to come.
Second place was more than deservingly awarded to David Wise, who was going bigger than anyone all night with a double 12, a cork 9, 5, 3 and seemingly everything in between, and held the top spot on the jumbotron until the very last competitor.
And that last competitor was...Kevin Rolland, last year's X Games and European X Games gold medalist, who fresh off his victory at last weekend's Dew Tour had a ton of confidence going into tonight's showdown, and repeated his unbeatable run from last year’s X Games to secure the top spot.
Stay tuned for more from X Games, as it's just getting started, and we'll be on hand all week long giving you the goods, including some fun new episodes of NSTV that will delve deep into the behind the scenes of X Games. Tomorrow will be a jam-packed day, with Men's Slopestyle Prelims, Women's Slopestyle Finals (just wait until you see the course, if you haven't already), and Women's Superpipe Finals, which you can check out live on ESPN. Don't miss it.
Women's Superpipe Prelims
1) Devin Logan - 86.00
2) Roz Groenewoud - 84.66
3) Jen Hudak - 83.00
4) Anais Caradeux - 82.33
5) Brita Sigourney - 82.00
6) Sarah Burke
7) Keltie Hansen - 78.00
8) Maddie Bowman - 73.66
9) Jess Cumming - 71.66
10) Mirjam Jaeger - 69.33
11) Virginie Faivre - 67.00
Men's Superpipe Prelims
1) Kevin Rolland - 95.00
2) David Wise - 92.66
3) Torin Yater-Wallace - 91.00
4) Justin Dorey - 89.00
5) Simon Dumont - 83.66
6) Thomas Krief - 83.00
7) Duncan Adams - 80.00
8) Xavier Bertoni - 77.33
9) Byron Wells - 74.66
10) Taylor Seaton - 70.00
11) Matt Margetts - 64.66
12) Jossi Wells - 41.66
13) Peter Olenick - 25.33
14) AJ Kemppainen - 14.00
15) Mike Riddle - 9.00
16) Tucker Perkins - DNS