All season long, Torin Yater-Wallace and David Wise have been neck and neck atop the AFP superpipe world ranking. Each has earned an X Games gold, Wise in Aspen and Yater-Wallace in Tignes, France. Going into the final event of the 2011/12 calendar year—the AFP World Championships at Whistler Blackcomb—a mere 28.07 points separate the two athletes, Yater-Wallace holding the slight advantage.
Yater-Wallace and Wise will be among 50 competitors dropping into Blackcomb's superpipe on Sunday, April 22. Only nine will advance to the finals. In order for Yater-Wallace to defend his current ranking, or for Wise to slide into the top spot, they'll have to perform their best. We caught up with the two this week to reflect on their season, and to discuss what it will take to win the 2012 AFP superpipe title.
Torin competes at the Winter Dew Tour at Snowbasin. P: Shay Williams.
Freeskier.com: You're separated by just 28.07 points going into the final halfpipe event of the year. What's it going to take for you to win the title?
Torin Yater-Wallace: To hang on to the title at this last event it’s going to take beating Dave [laughs]. Dave is one of the best halfpipe skiers in the world right now and a real strong competitor so that is most definitely not any easy task.
David Wise: Well, I think I'm just going to have to beat him [laughs]. Our results are almost exactly the same thus far, so it will really come down to who finishes higher in this last event. Pretty exciting stuff.
Freeskier.com: Throughout the season, how much are you paying attention to the AFP overall standings? Where does your AFP standing at the end of the season rank in comparison to, say, a couple of wins at major events?
Torin Yater-Wallace: I tend to look at the AFP standings after each event just to kind of get an idea of where I am at, but I don’t ever stress over it. My final standing at the end of the year is pretty important to me because if I am ranked high up then that shows I was consistent that season, but I wouldn’t say that is better then a couple wins at major events throughout the season.
David Wise: It is nice to be able to use the AFP rankings to show people where you are ranked for the whole season, not just one contest or another. We definitely pay attention to it. For me, at the end of a season like this one, the AFP ranking is a bonus. I've already achieved better results that I could have dreamed of, so the AFP title would just be the cherry on top.
Freeskier.com: Who has been your favorite competitor to watch in the pipe this season?
Torin Yater-Wallace: My favorite competitor to watch in the pipe this season has most definitely been Noah Bowman.
David Wise: I have really enjoyed watching the sport change and mature this year. There are a lot of new faces out there. I have loved watching Noah Bowman do what I've always known he was capable of, and watching Torin become the champion that he is. That being said, I never fail to watch Nils Lauper and Wing Tai Barrymore because those dudes truly hold nothing back.
Freeskier.com: Is there anyone you look up to on the circuit? What's it like to be amongst the younger athletes competing at the highest level, and topping some of the older guys—guys you must certainly have looked up to in years past—at major events?
Torin Yater-Wallace: I don’t look up to anybody specifically on the circuit. Everybody who I compete with has a big influence on me. It’s pretty crazy being amongst the younger athletes at the highest level, to this day I still find myself a little bit star struck at times because many of the guys I’m competing against I have looked up to since I was a young kid.
David Wise: As a pipe competitor I have always looked up to Mike Riddle and Justin Dorey. I have been chasing those guys for a long time, it's nice to even be on the same level.
David competes at the Winter Dew Tour at Snowbasin. P: Shay Williams.
Freeskier.com: What's been the highlight of your season so far? Tell us a bit about it.
Torin Yater-Wallace: The highlight of my season so far has been winning the European X Games. It has always been my goal and my dream to have a gold medal at the X Games and that ended up coming true this season. The pipe in Tignes was the best pipe all year in my opinion. I was just trying to have as much fun as possible and not take things too seriously, and that worked out for me [laughs].
David Wise: The cool thing about skiing is that there are things to enjoy every single day. Winning X Games was unreal. Having the starter tell me before my 3rd run that I had already won, and that I could just go have fun was crazy. I don't know that any future competition will ever match that feeling for me. I also got to do a backcountry trip to Switzerland with snowboarder Seb Toots. He and I got to hit flawless backcountry jumps into fresh snow for a week straight. Things like that are rare for a competition skier. This spring I got to do a photo shoot at Northstar with two of my good friends that I grew up with, Austin Simonpietre and Billy Mann. We shot in the pipe and on a massive jump from dawn to dusk. The conditions were perfect, and the energy was awesome, everyone learned and stomped new tricks. Those three things tie for most memorable for me this season.
Freeskier.com: Was there anything that happened behind the scenes that contributed to making your X Games victory such a memorable experience?
Torin Yater-Wallace: I got to meet Candide Thovex!
David Wise: I grew up skiing on the Alpine Meadows freestyle team with Clay Beck. Clay was a great coach and mentor, and honestly one of the most selfless people I have ever known. Clay and Elana Chase were close friends and colleagues, so when Clay passed away in 2008 Elana took me under her wing and helped me get to where I am now. Standing at the top of the pipe with Elana and knowing that I was about to win and knowing how proud Clay would have been almost brought me to tears. I will never forget that moment.
Freeskier.com: Are there any up and comers you think we should be looking out for next season in the halfpipe?
Torin Yater-Wallace: There are tons of great pipe skiers being coached by Elana Chase at Vail Ski Club such as Alex Ferriera and Aaron Blunk. Be sure to watch out for them next year.
David Wise: Lyman Currier certainly turned some heads at the Grand Prix. He has been working hard and getting better all year. Watch out for him. Also watch out for Alex Ferriera and Aaron Blunk, those kids are going to make their mark next season.
Freeskier.com: Summer plans?
Torin Yater-Wallace: Hmm, no clue what my summer plans are yet, only thing I know of is Level 1 Windells takeover week, Session 5. Be there.
David Wise: I'm planning on a little bit of everything this summer: water ramps in Park City, some time up in Whistler shredding the glacier, a trip down to the Dominican Republic with my sister, a late summer trip to NZ, plenty of summer activities around Tahoe, and of course some quality family time with my wife and little girl.