Words by Jeff Schmuck
Photos by John Vandervalk (http://www.majestyphoto.com)
Welcome to Winter X Games 13. The biggest event of the year got off to a banging start tonight under the bright lights at Buttermilk with men's superpipe eliminations.
There's only one word to describe this year's pipe...massive, oh, and perfect. So two words. With 22-foot walls, the height, fluidity and all-around smoothness of the guys' runs were a thing of excellence and if tonight was any indication, tomorrow night's superpipe finals could very well be the best pipe competition seen thus far in the history of skiing.
Right out of the gate tonight, the French connection of Xavier Bertoni and Kevin Rolland were on fire, much like they've been all winter. With their flawless switch hits and technical grabs, Bertoni nabbed second place tonight with Rolland just behind him in fourth. Keep your eyes on these two tonight, and for years to come.
Also representing the other side of the pond was AJ Kemppainen, who threw down back-to-back switch 9's amongst a plethora of other washing machine-like spins, helping him qualify in eighth.
The silent assassin Duncan Adams had a rough start during his first run but managed to retain the consistency he showed at the first two Dew Tour stops with a rock solid run that scored him fifth place.
Tying Adams tonight was the immaculate Simon Dumont, who despite qualifying in fifth tonight is undoubtedly the favorite to win it all tomorrow night, as the 22-foot walls best favor his style and out of this world amplitude that no one, still after all these years, can touch.
Nipping at Dumont's heels was his best friend Colby James West, who put down a banger of a run top to bottom, which is no surprise coming from one of the most talented and fun to be around skiers in the business.
Also having a spot of trouble in his first run but more than making up for it in his second was Justin Dorey, who may just pull it off tomorrow night once his double and switch left and right hits come into play. One of the more humorous and camaraderie-laced moments of the night came when Matt Margetts, who was on the bubble until Dorey put down his run, smiled widely at one of his good friends J-Bone and with ESPN's cameras in his face yelled, "thanks for knocking me out of X Games finals, jerk!"
Also failing to qualify tonight was Mike Riddle, who disappointingly and violently crashed on a beautiful 1260 attempt, Byron Wells and Peter Olenick, who unfortunately fell on the bottom hits of their runs, and Taylor Seaton, Dan Marion and Walter Wood, who all suffered similar fates.
But in the end, to no one's surprise, the X Games trend of Tanner Hall being the story of the night continued. T-Hall mobbed into his first hit and threw down the only double of the night...and stomped the piss out of it. Following his massive double was a series of left and right 9's, and 12 and more shifties than you could shake a stick at. Needless to say, all eyes will be on Tanner tomorrow night.
1) Tanner Hall - 90.00
2) Xavier Bertoni - 87.66
3) Justin Dorey - 83.00
4) Kevin Rolland - 80.00
5) Duncan Adams - 76.33
6) Simon Dumont - 76.33
7) Colby West - 75.00
8) AJ Kemppainen - 70.00
9) Matt Margetts - 67.66
10) Byron Wells - 66.66
11) Taylor Seaton - 63.33
12) Mike Riddle - 61.33
13) Dan Marion - 59.33
14) Peter Olenick - 57.66
15) Walter Wood - 47.66
Stay tuned to NS for the next 5 days for the sickest coverage available online on Winter X Games 13. Up next is men's slopestyle practice tomorrow afternoon which we'll have an update on (along with a new episode of NSTV!), which will be followed up one of the main events of the week, men's superpipe finals, which goes down tomorrow night under the lights here in Aspen.