The only thing more exciting than guessing what the weather would do today, was the amazing pipe riding that went down at the Aspen/Snowmass Open today. Practice, semi-finals, finals, podium… the usual business went down today at the 22-ft Superpipe here at Buttermilk Mountain. A truly open event (something becoming a rarity these days), the kids were hungry and out for blood today, but in the end it was Telluride’s Gus Kenworthy and La Clusaz’s Anais Caradeux that walked away with the first place finish.
The day started off with ladies semis where we saw a field of about 20 whittled down to 5. The big surprise of the day was Megan Gunning bobbling both her runs and failing to make finals, in the Superpipe where she took silver at X Games, not two weeks ago. Once the finals were underway, it was all Anais, utilizing her 540 and alley oop boosting capabilities to catapult four points over the next competitor. Japan’s Miyuki Hatanaka came flying out of the land of the rising sun to show the Superpipe what was up and East coaster Devin Logan took her amplitude game to a new level, grabbing her first major podium. The ladies put on quite the show, but it was just to warm the crowd up for the men’s finals.
The 33 Men’s semi-finalists were divided into two heats, where 5 were taken out of each into the finals. Byron Wells qualified first with his smooth and stylish run, with Brian Kish’s monster alley oop 900 and Gus Kenworthy’s 1260s trailing closely.
As the 10 finals competitors were about to drop, Mother Nature decided to drop a bunch of the fluffy white stuff on the pipe, clouding vision and slowing the pipe noticeably. Andy Partridge, who probably isn’t tall enough to ride amusement park rides, took us on a ride of his own. 900s, alley oop flares, right 720s, the youngster (and small-ster) put on a clinic for the crowd. Aspen-local and 14-year-old Torin Yater-Wallace showed that high school won’t hold him back. Putting in some of the larger amplitudes of the day, Torin’s flare game was on lock and he demonstrated skill that will be around for many years to come. Joss Christensen did what he does best, ski like a smooth ass boss.
Marshall Lacroix’s switch 720 to giant alley oop flatspin 540 (with a style that harkens back to the John Symms flatspins) won over more than a few people (and ladies, too). Evan Schwartz, like Joss, skied smoothly and soundly, landing him in that 6th place spot. 18-year-old Patrick Baskins was stomping 1080s at the bottom of the pipe like it was no big deal while Brian Kish unleashed his more than impressive alley oop 900 blunts for all to bask in.
Byron Wells, who had the highest consistency in amplitude, dropped a switch 720, alley oop flatspin 540 to back to back 900 combos to large 540, grabbed the 3rd place podium spot. The doctor was in the house today and Byron showed the world he’s ready to put a hurting on the halfpipe community. 2nd place belonged to Walter Wood, who spun like a top, including both 900, a 1260 and a 1080 to switch alley oop 720 to secure that 2nd spot. And Kenny G, not known for his pipe skills, showed today that he has a bunch of them. 1260s, switch 720s, right 900s, 1080s, right 720s… you name it, Gus Kenworthy put it down. Consistently and stylishly, Gus brought his A-game today and it paid off (literally, he won $5K).
But as the faint echoes of “Gus! Gus! Gus!” fade away, we move on past the superpipe and the escapades that ensued the past two days and look forward to the slopestyle course and seeing what ample offering it will bring us over the next two days. Stay tuned for more open action at the Aspen/Snowmass open at Buttermilk.