48Straight Pipe Practice

48Straight Pipe Practice

Stop number three of the 48Straight tour is underway here in the schizophrenic weather of Sun Valley. Snow, sun, snow, sun – but many of halfpipes best and brightest were found practicing in a freshly cut Snow Park Technologies pipe on Warm Springs this afternoon.

Simon Dumont, Peter Olenick, Scott Hibbert, Jossi Wells, JP Solberg, Tucker Perkins, Taylor Felton and others were working the smooth pipe figuring out their best run for Sunday’s finals. For those with Colby West on their Fantasy Freeride team, don’t worry, he arrived after practice today, after a trip to Monaco to shoot with Jon Olsson – but will be competing on Sunday.
I asked Peter Olenick who was skiing well and he broke it down:
“I’ve been skiing a lot with Simon and Jossi lately,” said Olenick, “and those guys are killing it. We’re all still figuring this pipe out – and with another day of practice I think it’s going to be really good comp.”

Indeed, Jossi, who has been on fire of late in competition, will likely be giving the normally dominant Dumont a good run for his money (literally) with some strong pipe skiing. Both showed some technical skiing today, blasting right-side nines in what is being simultaneously lauded and disparaged as a smooth yet smaller halfpipe.

Take that assessment of size with a grain of salt, since many of these athletes are coming off the World SuperPipe Comp where Park City built one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, halfpipe ever seen. Reputedly with solid 22-foot walls.

Relative to WSC pipe it’s undeniably smaller – but I heard more than one athlete remark on how well it was skiing. We’ll see how the comp goes on Sunday, but while some are loudly complaining that size matters, others are clearly proclaiming, it’s not the size, but how a pipe rides… that really matters.

Frank Wells of SnowPark Technologies commented, “This is the same size pipe as the X Games pipe. 18-foot walls, 60-feet wide and 435-feet long. Relative to the WSC pipe, it is smaller, but the mountain here gave us all the necessary equipment and we built a regulation pipe.”

Ted Martin, 48Straight’s VP of Operations chimed in to set the record straight, “The athletes are right that it’s smaller than Park City, but that’s because they are coming from the WSC where they were riding a 22′ pipe, a SuperPipe, that was cut with a Zaug that makes 22′ walls – the one at Sun Valley cuts a 18′ wall. The athletes asked for Frank Wells and we brought him in and he built a top-notch pipe.”

Our assessment would agree given that by the end of practice today, the sun broke out, the snow stopped, and the athletes really started to crank it up. JP Solberg was boosting 15-feet plus and Simon and Jossi were hiking the bottom cajoling one another in what is shaping up to be a friendly and fun rivalry. The young Kiwi is coming into his own and isnt afraid to challenge the reigning 48Straight pipe champ Dumont with a smile.

Tune in for more photos and video from tomorrow’s practice and Sunday’s finals. Also, the Monster Hit finals should be a good show. Six riders, those with the top results from Squaw Valley’s pipe comp and Sun Valley’s pipe comp will advance to the Monster Hit, along with two “wild card” picks. These eight athletes will have the chance to compete for $15,000 first place, $10,000 second and $5,000 third place prizes. The top combined results from Squaw, Sun Valley and the Monster Hit will be crowned the 48Straight champ and win another $5,000. All told, if someone is able to sweep the pipe and Monster Hit and overall, they could have a $35,000 day. Not a bad day at the office – considering it is potentially the biggest single-day payout in the history of freeskiing.

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