The AFP honors its season-end champions at awards dinner
The AFP hardware for the evening. p: Williams
With yesterday's conclusion of the AFP World Championships at the Telus WSSF in Whistler, BC, Canada, the 2011-12 competition season is officially over. As Mike Riddle and Maddie Bowman's topped the superpipe podiums yesterday, the latest chapter in AFP's books are now closed. As has become a perennial custom, the AFP invited athletes and industry luminaries to the Barefoot Bistro in Whistler to award and celebrate its season-end winners, according to the AFP World Rankings.
While many festivities in the ski industry see the skiers garbed in sponsor hoodies and jeans, the night was more of a formal affair, with collared shirts and dresses coming out. The emcees for the night were AFP board member Mike Atkinson and AFP General Manager Steele Spence, with AFP Content Manager Brian Schroy on hand to capture candid interviews. The ledger for the evening? To award individual excellence in slopestyle, superpipe and big air, as well as name the AFP overall title winners. This year, and for every year henceforth, the AFP overall trophies have been renamed the "Sarah Burke Trophy", to honor the late legend of the sport.
L-R: Noah Bowman, Mike Riddle, Dan Marion, Josh Bibby, Joe Schuster, Justin Dorey, Ian Cosco. p: Williams
"It was great to get everyone together for the awards dinner," remarked Sunday's superpipe winner Mike Riddle. "To celebrate the conclusion of another season and look back at all the amazing accomplishments that the competitors had this year is great."
The final award of the evening, the overall winners of the 2012 are Gus Kenworthy and Devin Logan, both of whom captured a second consecutive Overall World Title for excellence in multiple disciplines throughout the year. Both Kenworthy and Logan were virtual locks to win before this weekend, yet Gus padded his stats with a couple of wins in Whistler, while Devin unfortunately suffered and ankle injury during Friday's slopestyle.
Rory Bushfield, Gus Kenworthy, Devin Logan & Trennon Paynter. p: Williams
The Sarah Burke trophies were presented by Rory Bushfield and Trennon Paynter, after the conclusion of a moving video tribute to Burke. "It feels amazing," said Kenworthy. "I worked super hard all year to try and secure this title again. When I found out towards the end of the season they were going to name it after Sarah, it definitely added some more motivation and made me want it that much more. I'm really honored and feel flattered that I've earned something with her name on it."
Gus was followed by Jossi Wells for the overall ranking for the second time. Wells was the overall men's winner in 2009-10. Rounding out the top three men was Torin Yater-Wallace who made a late push at the AFP World Champs, the US Grand Prix at Mammoth and the Aspen/Snowmass Open. Simon Dumont is the only other male to win the overall trophy.
Behind Devin Logan in overall points were youngster Dara Howell and veteran Keri Herman. Howell's stock has been on the rise as the two-discipline threat took home a medal at Winter X Games Europe in slopestyle. Previous women's overall winners include Sarah Burke and Rosalind Groenewoud.
|Men's Overall:||Women's Overall:|
|1_ Gus Kenworthy
2_ Jossi Wells
3_ Torin Yater-Wallace
|1_ Devin Logan
2_ Dara Howell
3_ Keri Herman
Gus, Anna Segal and James Woods celebrating. p: Williams
The closest races of the year were the halfpipe title races, on both sides of the gender pool. On the men's side Torin Yater-Wallace edged out David Wise in the final weekend, with Thomas Krief coming in third. And on the women's side of things Roz Groenewoud locked up the top spot again, with newcomer Maddie Bowman and Anais Caradeux snagging last minute top three positioning due to their performances earlier at the WSI superpipe contest.
1_ Torin Yater-Wallace, 2_ David Wise, 3_ Thomas Krief. p: Williams
Going into the AFP World Champs this weekend, David and Torin were separated by a mere 70-odd points, as both had put X Games golds, as well as a couple Dew Tour podiums, on their resumés. But due to a knee injury suffered in big air Saturday night, David Wise had to drop out, giving Torin a clear path to the title this season with his fourth place finish Sunday. And whether it was Thomas Krief's second place finish on Sunday, or Dorey's 12th place, the result was the same: Thomas Krief took third in the halfpipe rankings by less than 100 points over the grizzled vet. Thomas saw his first major breakthrough this season with a silver medal performance at Winter X Europe in Tignes, France. Dorey held onto the third ranking despite missing the final Winter Dew Tour stop and the US Grand Prix at Mammoth due to a shoulder injury.
While the women's race wasn't quite as close, it was still tight. In the end, Maddie Bowman's win on Sunday in the pipe wasn't enough to catapult her above the X Games and Euro X Games champ, Roz Groenewoud. Anais Caradeux jumped from fifth to third in the rankings with an inspired second-place performance at the AFP World Champs Sunday, putting her a mere three points ahead of the injured Devin Logan.
|Men's Superpipe:||Women's Superpipe:|
|1_ Torin Yater-Wallace
2_ David Wise
3_ Thomas Krief
|1_ Rosalind Groenewoud
2_ Maddie Bowman
3_ Anais Caradeux
1_ Rosalind Groenewoud, 2_ Maddie Bowman, 3_ Anais Caradeux p: Williams
The men's slopestyle race was as much a one-horse race as most of the slope contests were this season. Tom Wallisch—the X Games, Euro X and Dew Cup champ—took home the AFP slopestyle title last night. And in this season's fashion, Nick Goepper snagged second with Bobby Brown trailing him in third by less than 55 points.
1_ Gus Kenworthy, 2_ Nick Goepper, 3_ Bobb Brown. p: Williams and Bobby Brown
"The night was awesome, it was really fun having everyone together for a big end of season celebration," said Wallisch. "And of course I couldn't be happier to be taking home the slope title. It's been a fun and exciting trip that the AFP title is just the cherry on top."
On the women's side, it was even more lopsided, with Kaya Turski utilizing her perfect record this season to capture her fourth consecutive AFP slopestyle title. No other lady has come close to upsetting the Canadian slopestyle skier. Anna Segal, Friday's slopestyle winner in Whistler, finished second in the rankings, roughly 266 points behind Turski. And the injured Devin Logan finished a respectable third in the rankings, just above newcomers Emilia Wint and Dara Howell.
|Men's Slopestyle:||Women's Slopestyle:|
|1_ Tom Wallisch
2_ Nick Goepper
3_ Bobby Brown
|1_ Kaya Turski
2_ Anna Segal
3_ Devin Logan
While this weekend's slopestyle contest podium featured three guys who didn't finish atop the AFP rankings, there was little that could be done. Nick Goepper would have had to win outright and have Wallisch finish very far from the top, yet it was Nick who uncharacteristically didn't make finals. Bobby Brown grabbed sixth in Whistler, giving him enough points to fend off the day's winner—and fourth ranked slopestyle skier—Gus Kenworthy. And in true Russ Henshaw fashion, he finished fifth overall in the standings.
1_ Kaya Turski, 2_ Anna Segal, 3_ Devin Logan p: Kaya Turski and Williams
The ladies have all been playing catch up to Turski this year, yet there was nothing that could be done. Turski's stranglehold on the comp season was apparent, even as second-ranked Segal won Friday, slightly lessening the gap. Despite her 11th place finish on Friday (the run she would suffer her injury on), Logan still fended off Colorado-native Emilia Wint for the third-place rank, despite her podium finish at the AFP World Champs.
Big air seems like the forgotten discipline, with half the events taking place a world away in the fall, with a few glamorous events scattered throughout the rest of the season. But it came down to the final big air of the year, under the lights in Whistler, to crown the AFP AFP big air winner. Gus Kenworthy wowed the crowd with his double cork 1620 to take the win Saturday night, little did he know it would launch him over good friend Bobby Brown for control of the AFP title. Third place belonged to young swiss phenom Kai Mahler, who managed an eighth place finish on Saturday night.
1_ Gus Kenworthy, 2_ Bobby Brown, 3_ Kai Mahler. p: Williams and Bobby Brown
Gus didn't register a podium at any four of the city big airs last fall, yet he came on strong later with a fifth place at X Games, a first at JOI, a second at Nine Knights and a win at WSI. On the flip side, it was Bobby who started off hot with a second at King of Style and win at X, yet faltered at JOI with a seventh, a fourth at WSI and he did not attend Nine Knights. Kai Mahler was little known at the beginning of the year but after a podium in New Zealand, two city big air seconds, a second at X Games and wins at Frostgun and Nine Knights, the Swiss rider has made quite a name for himself.
|Men's Big Air:|
|1_ Gus Kenworthy
2_ Bobby Brown
3_ Kai Mahler
"I enjoyed the AFP awards dinner incredibly," commented James Woods. "Just to be a part of the event was amazing, but to be at such a fine venue, with the best of the best freeskiers and influencial people in the game was a true privilege. Then to be able to call them all close friends makes me very proud. I couldn't think of a better way to round off the winter than have everyone dressed up and out together, thanks guys!"
The AFP's annual tribute to its champions marks the end of the competition season, yet there will be more action soon to come. Sammy Carlson's big air invitational is just around the corner in May, and the New Zealand and city big air season will be upon us before we know it. And with all the hype around the Olympics, the 2012-13 season will surely be a good one. Congratulations to all the title winners. Thanks to the AFP and the sponsors for all their support. And a big thanks goes out to all the athletes for their dedication to the sport.
The AFP: Chris Schuster, Eric Zerrenner, Mike Atkinson, Brian Schroy, Michael Spencer, Chris Jerard, Steele Spence, Phil Larose. p: Williams
For more information and full rankings in each discipline, visit the Association of Freeskiing Professionals website.