Schiller edges Dumont for Gravity slopestyle win
COPPER MOUNTAIN – Not succeeding at first didn’t stop T.J. Schiller from trying again and again until he caught the judge’s attention with the last drop of energy he could muster.Schiller, who was a virtual no-name from Whistler, B.C., when he showed up at the U.S. Open in Vail two years ago and blew everybody away, surprised even himself Sunday after the last run he put down in the Winter Gravity Games ski slopestyle event at Copper Mountain earned him a gold medal and $20,000.”This is pretty huge for me,” Schiller said. “I’m totally surprised, especially after being at the very bottom the whole time.”Schiller scored consistently in the 60-point range for almost the entire two hours of the jam-format contest. But he decided to try his go-to run one last time with about 12 minutes remaining, and “go just a little bit bigger.”He threw a switch rightside 720 off the first hit, a switch leftside 7 off of the second, a switch leftside 1080 off of the third and a big leftside 9 off of the final jump. On the rails, he went 270 on and off the bleacher hit and “fooled around, spun around, all that cool stuff,” he said. Coming off the final bus bench rail, both his fists hit the ground as he landed switch, but by then, it appeared not to matter. The judges gave him a 96-point score, which announcers said was the highest ever given in the history of ski slopestyle competition.
“I was actually thinking about pulling out of the competition,” said Schiller, who came to Copper last weekend shortly after returning from skiing in Norway. “I’ve been supersick all week. I’m still weak, but it all came together in the end. I pretty much gave it all I had. I was like, ‘OK, that run was pretty good.’ I didn’t think it was my perfect run. … I didn’t think I’d do that well. I’m happy. I have absolutely nothing to complain about right now.”One person who looked like he was trying hard not to complain was second-place finisher Simon Dumont from Sunday River, Maine.At the beginning of the contest, Dumont threw a flawless run that earned him a 93.7-point score. Only bronze medalist Charles Gagnier of France could come anywhere close to Dumont’s effort for most of the event. Gagnier – this year’s X Games gold medalist in slopestyle – earned 87 points after doing back-to-back 1080s, but that didn’t happen until more than an hour of the contest had already passed. Dumont, 18, threw another couple of runs that were as flawless as his first, including one that earned him 94.7 points. It appeared nobody would touch him, but then Schiller shook off his wooziness and wrapped it up.”I’m pretty sure I was the only one landing all day, so it sucks to have that happen, but that’s what happens in this jam session, I guess,” said Dumont, the two-time defending Winter X Games pipe champ.Dumont won $10,000 for his silver-medal performance, but “It’s not really about the money,” he said. “I’m pretty bummed right now. Nobody was close all day and then somebody can be inconsistent and … that happened. Whatever. It happens.”Sammy Carlson of Mt. Hood, Ore., finished fourth Sunday with 88 points. Tanner Rainville took fifth (86.0), Aspen’s Peter Olenick was sixth (85.0) and Tim Russell skied to seventh (84.0) to round out the money winners.
Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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