Justin Dorey and Mike Riddle
The second iteration to the Winter X Games franchise is upon us, only in March, it's held in the heart of the Alps in Tignes Val Claret, France. Today marked the first day of practice, albeit a snowy one, for the largest contest in Europe. The superpipe, another Frank Wells masterpiece, was where the athletes got their first taste of blood.
This being the first major pipe event in a while (and a new pipe for all) the competitors slowly worked their way into the heavier tricks. Slow being a relative term for all these crazy athletes. While the pipe was liked by all, it wasn't quite yet perfect. This being the first real opportunity to get feedback on the pipe, it should only get better from tonight on.
Kevin Rolland chats about the Superpipe.
The weather tonight turned from a warm and gray late afternoon into a snowy and gusty night. Not the optimal time to be training in a 22-foot superpipe, but if any were bothered by the weather, none showed it. The forecast in Tignes does not look too promising (snowy and gray), but we've all been surprised by Mother Nature before and hopefully she'll pull one out for us in the coming days.
Tonight's highlights include Simon Dumont putting the gas pedal down on his pipe double flip 900s, Kevin Rolland throwing what could have been a competition run and no one ever gets sick of seeing Mike Riddle's alley-flatspin 360 bwarrows. SFR qualifier Wing Tai Barrymore was going absolutely richter in the amplitude department while David Wise, fresh off his European Open win was looking pretty convincing tonight. Devin Logan over on the women's side of things was putting her 540 tail grabs to good use tonight, as well.
Torin Yater-Wallace drops his two-cents on today's session.
While many competitors stayed under the radar tonight, during tomorrow afternoon's practice, the level of competition should heat up, as qualifiers follow quickly on Wednesday. Can Kevin Rolland take his 4th consecutive X Games gold medal in Superpipe? Will Xavier Bertoni repeat his bronze performance or better in front of a home crowd? Can Simon Dumont come back from last year's disappointing performance in qualifiers? Will Jen Hudak find her groove here in Tignes? Can Sarah Burke take back-to-back X medals this season? Or will newcomer Brita Sigourney upset the field? All the questions will be answered, starting on Wednesday. Stay tuned.
Tomorrow morning, snowy weather or not, the slopestyle competitors put their collective noses to the grindstone as they get their first look at a revamped slopestyle course (from the 2010 Euro X course). Check back to freeskier.com for your European X Games coverage, starting with tomorrow afternoon's slopestyle preview.
The Dumont lays out another 900.