In a polar opposite weather day to Wednesday's sunny prelims, the 12 men and 12 women finalists were subjected to snow, wind, slow speeds and flat light, here at the Visa Grand Prix Halfpipe at Copper. Today it was Justin Dorey and Rosalind Groenewoud who struck oil. The two Canadian halfpipe riders took home the wins today in their respective gender classes. On the men's side, fellow Canadian Mike Riddle took 2nd and USA's Simon Dumont took 3rd. On the women's side, Jen Hudak grabbed that 2nd place spot with Jess Cumming sneaking in at third.
"It was awesome, man. One of the best days ever. A little bit snowy. I was on top until the end but I couldn't be more stoked," said Mike Riddle.
As the hour of practice quickly whittled away, it was apparent that speed would be an issue throughout the day. As soon as finals began, a wet snowfall started to pick up speed, only letting up part way though the men's 2nd run. Despite the inclement weather, the top men's performers put on quite a show at the first skiing Grand Prix. Here were the top three podium runs on the men's side:
Justin Dorey – J Bone kicked things off with a double cork 1260 into an alley oop flatspin 360, which setup a switch 900 to switch right 720 combo, and he ended things with a rightside alley oop flatspin 540.
Mike Riddle – Ridds started similar to Justin with a double cork 1260, but veered off. Next Mike threw back to back 900s (right then left) then his signature setup trick, the alley oop flatspin 360 bwarrow, into one last switch 720.
Simon Dumont – The Dumont started things off with a pipe double flip 900 into back-to-back 900s (right then left), then put down his setup trick, the alley oop 720 and ended his run off with a switch 720.
Narrowly missing the podium was Tucker Perkins, who threw a massive pipe double and back to back 900, and a 1080, but was edged out by Dumont's cleanliness of run. Behind Tucker sat AJ Kemppainen who looks so comfortable spinning both ways it's unreal. Right 900 to left 900 to right 720 to switch 1080 to alley oop flatspin 540. If the weather wasn't holding back speed and amplitude, Kemppainen could very well have cracked the podium.
Other notables include Byron "Lobster Face" Wells with his big switch 1080 first hit. David Wise unfortunately couldn't keep the cap on his double cork 1260. Thomas Krief showed flashes of brilliance, but couldn't quite land either of his double cork 1260s cleanly. Torin Yater-Wallace turned some heads in prelims with massive flatspins and 900s, but the weather kept the youngster to more human-like amplitudes. More to come from him in the future.
On the women's side of things, the speed issue might have been more of a bane than in the men's field, but the ladies charged with their same tenacity, with birthday girl Rosalind Groenewoud finding herself on the podium (and $10K richer). Here's how the top three went down for the ladies:
Rosalind Groenewoud – Roz got things kicked off with a sizable straight air into her rightside 900. Following the 900 Roz put down back-to-back 540 (left then right). After the combo, Roz setup with a 360 into a switch 540 over the finish line.
Jen Hudak – After being in an unfavorable 10th place after her first run, Jen battened down the hatches and started things off with a big 900. Then came the alley oop 540 into the 540. One last aley oop air to 720 finished things off for Jen.
Jess Cumming – Jess got things underway with a 540 into an alley oop air, followed by another 540 and a right 540. She closed out her run with a 720, coming in switch to her cheering fans.
While the top three women were on top of their game today, there were other notables, including a number of women who threw down 900s, including Anais Caradeux, Keltie Hansen and Dania Assaly. Youngster Jamie Crane-Mauzy threw back-to-back flares, the first since Sarah Burke to do so at last year's European X Games. Devin Logan also was dropping flares, but couldn't put a run completely together today.
Just before the podium ceremonies, the USSA announced that the Grand Prix will be held at Copper Mountain, CO, for the next four years, through 2014. The future Grand Prix's will host ski and snowboard competitions. Now that the first skiing involved Grand Prix has come to a close, the first official North American event has come to a close.
Despite the weather being a hinderance, this answers some questions before Dew, yet raises others. Double cork 1260s are a staple, but what do riders like Xavier Bertoni, Kevin Rolland Jossi Wells have up their sleeve, who opted out of this event. For more information regarding what this event does to the AFP rankings list, visit the organization's site. A big shout out to all the competitors and organizers who made this event possible. See you next week at the first stop of the Winter Dew Tour in Breckenridge.
For updates on how this affects the current AFP rankings list, visit the AFP Current Rankings page.