‘Call it pipestyle’: Chloe Kim, Alex Ferreira win modified superpipe competitions lauded by athletes
Men’s ski superpipe
1. Alex Ferreira, USA 90.00
2. Aaron Blunck, USA 86.00
3. David Wise, USA 84.67
Women’s snowboard superpipe
1. Chloe Kim, USA 94.67
2. Maddie Mastro, USA 88.00
3. Queralt Castellet, ESP 85.33
David Wise’s halfpipe past consists of two Olympic gold medals and four Winter X Games gold medals.
But it’s halfpipe’s future he’s worried about.
After the 28-year-old finished in third place behind his American teammates Alex Ferreira of Aspen and Aaron Blunck of Crested Butte at Sunday’s Dew Tour modified superpipe competition, Wise was as candid as can be about where halfpipe riding goes from here.
“Pipe skiing and pipe snowboarding is getting a little bit stagnant,” Wise said. “And, as riders — as somebody who has been in the sport a long time — I can kind of see a lot of resorts are having a hard time building pipes. They are expensive. Twenty-two-foot pipes are really hard to build. So we are staring at what could be the end of our sport. But if we start making these courses fun and making the general public want to get in there and ride it and have fun, then that’s going to give the sport a lot more longevity. I look at it as, this is good for all of us.”
“Call it ‘pipestyle,’” Wise later added. “That’s going to be our new buzzword.”
Where does the halfpipe go from here? That’s the common refrain this week at Breckenridge Ski Resort among the prominent athletes and figures at the heartbeat of snowboarding and freeskiing’s park and pipe community. In fact, Wise — who finished with a score of 84.67 — wasn’t the only freeskier on Sunday’s modified superpipe podium who threw out the idea of having more creative runs.
After Ferreira landed his winning 90.00-point run through the modified superpipe, he said in an interview on the Dew Tour television broadcast that he would like to see 50 percent of International Ski & Snowboard Federation World Cup halfpipe competitions have modified features. Ferreira won his second consecutive Dew Tour via a run that consisted of a huge double-cork 1260 with a mute grab in the pipe.
A week after winning at the Copper Mountain Resort Grand Prix, Blunck earned that second-place score of 86.00 despite struggling with speed coming out of the flattened bottom of the pipe. He hit the tombstone takeoff from the side, stomping his transition into the hip hits at the bottom of the course.
“It’s nice to see you have to get creative,” Blunck said of the modified course.
After the competition, Wise said he often is asked why the American team is so dominant in freeskiing and snowboarding events. To the prolific veteran, he thinks it gets to the core of their on-snow ethos. He said the U.S. riders have “the rebel spirit,” and are “here to do things differently than everybody else.” Wise said he’d even like to have a massive loft-jump feature at the top of a modified pipe course in the future, similar to the high-air elements seen in BMX and motocross competitions.
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“I’m just going to mic drop,” Wise said. “Let’s do more of these. Let’s have a circuit of more creative courses. Because we love halfpipe — I love halfpipe. That apex that you get when you go straight up in the air and you are holding that grab, that weightless feeling is unmatched for me. That’s why I love halfpipe so much. But why not have more of this creative style of competition? It makes it more fun for us. It makes it more interesting to watch. I don’t think there were two runs even close to each other today.”
Sunday’s competition was partially marred though by a very serious injury sustained by Basalt’s Torin Yater-Wallace. Yater-Wallace had to be taken off on a sled by paramedics after he appeared to seriously injure both of his heels when he landed in the flat-bottom out of the tombstone feature of the modified pipe course. The impact of the fall also left him with a bloody nose. The scary-looking injury came during a strong run from Yater-Wallace after he executed a right alley-oop double flat-spin 900 on the tombstone and a stylish first hit in the pipe with a nose mute.
Kim overcomes nerves to win
Last winter was a whirlwind stretch for Chloe Kim, culminating in an Olympics where she became an instant pop culture superstar thanks to her gold-medal win in the Pyeongchang halfpipe.
Sponsored by such top Olympic brands as Visa, there was every reason in the world for Kim to feel a mountain of pressure on her shoulders, as she was effectively tabbed as one of Team USA’s biggest Olympic stars before she even got to South Korea.
Those nerves at the Olympics, though, paled in comparison to the nervousness she felt dropping into the Dew Tour modified superpipe on Sunday.
Kim — much like men’s snowboard superpipe winner Scotty James on Saturday — said she didn’t once land a full run during training this week at Breckenridge Ski Resort. With that in the back of her mind before she dropped into the modified course on Sunday, there was certainly a question of whether or not Kim would coast to her typical easy win.
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“At the Olympics I think we all kind of did runs that we were pretty confident in and knew we were going to land,” Kim said. “So It’s kind of a big difference. I was kind of hoping for the best today where at the Olympics everything was pre-planned. I was definitely a lot more nervous today, but stoked it worked out.”
It did indeed work out in the end. On Kim’s first run through the course during Sunday’s competition, she executed a back-side 540 with an Indy grab off of the side-hit shark fin feature at the top of the course. Kim then strung together a switch front-side 900 with a melon grab, a switch back-side 360 with an Indy grab, an Indy McTwist, a front-side 360 with an Indy grab and a huge front-side air.
Kim earned a 94.67 with that run, putting her into her typical position of having a stranglehold on the competition before it seemingly began. That score ended up being more than six points better than second-place finisher Maddie Mastro of California, who earned an 88.00 and her first career Dew Tour podium thanks to a run that began with a back-side 180 seatbelt off the shark fin, followed by a Haakon flip stalefish, a front-side 900 tucknee and a backside air in the pipe. Mastro exited the pipe with a backside alley-oop 270 stalefish before landing one more huge backside air.
Kim’s dominance has been so impressive of recent that it left Dew Tour’s broadcast announcers hoping she’d give slopestyle a try.
Is that something she’d entertain?
“Have you seen the slope girls? Absolutely not!” Kim said. “I do not want to do that. They are so gnarly and so amazing and so bad*** that I’m just going to stick to the pipe and they are going to do some crazy runs. Anna Gasser with the triple (cork) — pretty much all of the girls can do doubles now, and that’s so insane. So I think I’m going to stick in the halfpipe and watch them kill it from the other side of the course.”
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