If you've been following along with my coverage of the 2011 Aspen Snowmass Open, then you'll be quite familiar with the fact that it's been nothing but awesome-awesome weather, and top-notch skiing.
Well, the competition concluded today with the Superpipe finals, and just one last time, I'm pleased to report that the event, and the weather, were absolutely killer once again. Today was so glorious, in fact, that shirts came off, and bikinis came out. Can't really top that!
The morning practice session (which, amongst other things, saw Aspen local Charlie Lasser take a ski edge to the leg, resulting in some serious stitches) led straight into the women's final. Seven ladies were on hand throwing down; big airs, spins in both directions, inverts, switch hits – they brought it all.
Taking top honors were three women who certainly earned it today. 17-year-old Analisa Drew of Andover, MA took 3rd throwing a couple of solid 540's, and capping off her run with a big ol' 720. Following her up onto the podium was 14-year-old Shannon Gunning of Calgary, Alberta. Given her age, and given her talent level, be sure to watch out for this girl in the future. Like Drew, she too wowed the judges with large, smooth straight airs, 540's, and a 7 at the bottom of her run. Taking home the gold today was Park City's Kimmy Sharp. Her trickery was on par with the rest of the field, but what set her apart was her lofty amplitude, which she carried consistently down the pipe.
Meet the Top 3 ladies.
Once the women wrapped up, it was time for the men to show their stuff. Eighteen competitors stood atop the pipe, having earned their spot by battling their way through a heated qualifying round. With $5000 on the line for first place, the athletes got down and dirty right away on their first of three runs.
Of those who did not grace the podium at the end of the day, noteworthy runs came from Christain Allen, who displayed serious technical skill, and went absolutely huge all day long — 14-year-old Aaron Blunck, who was spinning like a top in both directions — John Leonard, who was easily in contention for a podium spot, but took a nasty tumble on his second run — Geoff Straight, with a massive double cork 12 on his first hit — and Marshall LaCroix, who consistently went big.
Christian Allen Goes 900
The first of three who found their way to the podium this afternoon was Brian Kish. I first saw Kish shredding pipe a month ago at the Gatorade Free Flow Tour in Vail (where he placed 1st). In my recap, I commented on his smoothness. Today, not only did he bring that same effortless style to the table, he also pulled some serious tricks out of his bag, including a switch 10 on his first hit.
Kish En Route To The Podium
Landing in 2nd was Mr. Evan Schwartz of Breckenridge. After watching him win the first heat of Semifinals, I knew Schwartz was going to bring the heat today. He upped his amplitude (somehow… because he certainly wasn't lacking in that department in the first place), had the technicality, laying down noteworthy maneuvers including a switch right 7, and boy-oh-boy, did he slay the grabs.
Speaking of going huge, getting technical, and getting grabs, let's talk about our winner – Jon Marks. Jon threw a couple of different runs, and I'm not actually sure which one earned the highest score, but needless to say, he killed it time and time again. Grabbing his 12's, maintaining height all the way down the pipe, and capping off his runs with a switch 7 to the moon. Job well done, Jonny!
Marks sends 12 tail on his first hit.
Checking in with the Top 3 men.
What does this do to the AFP Superpipe rankings? Visit the World Rankings Page in the coming days to find out.