If you haven’t seen a halfpipe competition in a while I’m here to tell you that the shit is pretty much off the hinges. If you can’t put up steady eight to ten foot airs you might as well just chill in the snack tent. People ain’t messing around no more. And to be honest I’m a little scared.
The qualifying runs that people are throwing down could have won any contest three years ago. Take Daniel Franck for instance: his qualifying run had almost no spins less than a 7 and all of them were bigger than Oprah. The one and only Shaun Palmer was lofting ten foot airs the whole way down, including methods that make me weep at the site of them. Idaho’s favorite son Greg Goulet was doing cab 7’s and switch methods so smoothly that I wanted to puke. Let’s just say qualifiering was an emotional roller coaster for me.
By the time the finals came around I was afraid for the people taking their runs. “Be careful!” I would yell at Andy Finch as he dropped in the pipe. But no he wouldn’t listen. He would just do huge McTwists and Cripplers. Zach Leach threw all caution to the wind and cabbed into the pipe only to do a Hakkon first hit. Daniel Franck must have been on the freakbuggy, cause he kept doing huge 9s. He had a little trouble landing though, so he wouldn’t make top ten.
When Ross Powers dropped in I thought, “Oh no, what if he hurts himself and can’t make it to the mailbox to get all those big checks he’s going to be getting now.” He did a couple mellow 7s and walked away completely unscathed but in sixth. A guy by the name of Wyatt Caldwell was doing tricks like cork 7s, Hakkons and alley oop 7s with reckless abandon. For his madness he was awarded third.
“I hope his wearing clean underwear,” I worried out loud as Gian Simmen cab 7, frontside 9 and mctwisted his way into second. When I first saw Tommy Czeschin do his first frontside air I thought he’d been dropped from a helicopter. Then I realized that he was just damn good. You have to be to do back to back 7s and a 9 in three hits. The people keeping score gave him first. And well they should have.
The women’s final was a sight to be seen, let me tell you. They look all nice and cute, but soon as they get in the pipe they turn into Satan’s little helpers. Mercedes Nicoll for instance comes off all quiet and the next thing you know “BAM” a backside 5. Or Paige Warner, she looks like the type of girl who you could bring home to meet mom and all the sudden she’s doing frontside 7s. This isn’t a laughing matter folks– this is scary stuff. Michele Taggart is another one. Dropping into a backside five and doing big air-to-fakies is no way to make friends. Then you got Minna Hesso “I’m from Finland- BOOM! frontside 5 or a backside 5, or an alley oop, you never know. But that’s how you get third. Gretchen Bleiler is all smiles outside the pipe but as soon as she drops in it’s all frontside 5s, 7s and backside 5s. Second place would be hers.
Ya know, come to think of it that Tricia Byrnes won and she is about the happiest girl I ever did meet. She can do a run with a frontside 5, a frontside 3, a switch frontside 5 and a switch method in it. Maybe the day wasn’t so scary. I need to stop watching horror movies before I got to bed.
Men’s final results