Cover photo: Mark Kohlman/ESPN
Straight after knuckle huck, the men's pipe skiers took center stage for the last event of X Games '22. It was a pretty big change of vibe from but another insane display of skiing. The live performance from Ferg just prior to the drop definitely built the hype.
There truly is nothing quite like a pipe contest under the lights in Aspen, and with three banger runs to open the contest, we knew we were in for a crazy show. It's been a while since we've seen Gus Kenworthy in a halfpipe contest and this, his swansong, was his 32nd X Games start. Definitely a legend. David Wise called the pipe one of the best he's ever skied, and it showed in the skiing.
Ben Harrington opened the event with a high octane run. There are more technical runs out there but his run was pedal to the metal and all the better for it. Miguel Porteous dropped in with back-to-back switch dubs and finished it with both ways dub 12s... that's all 4 ways for the record but missed a couple of grabs. Birk Irving's capped tail grabs took him to the top of the leaderboard, despite a comparatively chilled run rotationally, which was dope to see. Aaron Blunck dropped his 5 double cork run right off the bat, but also had a grab issue, leaving him second. Nico Porteous brought the (first ever?) switch dub 14 to play but had a couple of issues through the run which killed his score.
Hunter Hess stomped his run but for the second time on the bounce, missed a couple of grabs. Blunck sent 5 dubs again, cleaned up his grabs and took the lead. Insane consistency. Nico opted to take the switch dub 14 out of his run, keeping it at 10, opting for back-to-back dub 16s instead, and moving himself up into the provisional second spot.
Hunter Hess cleaned up his run, getting the grab on his sixteen and moving into third spot. Gus went down on the right dub 12 for the third, heartbreaking time piling on the pressure for his final run. Noah Bowman finally pieced things together though, his insane back-to-back switch dubs into the switch bone role and the right dub 14. Unfortunately, the grab on the 14 wasn't quite there for the lead, but he did take over third place. Birk stepped up his final hit to an alley-oop flat 10 but had grab issues higher up the pipe. David Wise finally put it down in run three. He doesn't have the most technical run out there anymore but damn, does he boost and the judges bumped him into second as a result.
Gus' last ever run at X Games ended with another hip check (all 4 runs on the same right dub 12) but the preceding tricks continued to be works of art. HIs downpipe 10s and dub flats are as good as it gets. Noah Bowman went massive and just ran out of pipe. It looked like an improvement on his third run to us but didn't improve his ranking. Nico Porteous is pipe's version of Alex Hall, ice-cool under pressure and ridiculously good. He finally put down the switch dub 14 to back to back dub 16s at the fourth time of asking and took the win with the final run of the day.
1) Nico Porteous
2) Aaron Blunck
3) David Wise