Mon. Apr 13, 2015

Sunday's AFP World Tour Halfpipe event was nothing short of impressive. Boosting 21 feet out of a 22 foot, meticulosly crafted, and concrete hard Stunt Ditch may be the norm these days but if you missed yesterday's action in the Blackcomb Park, let me hand it to ya. The day started at 9:15am for the Male athletes competing in two elimination heats for a spot in the final against 6 pre-qualified Skiers. 18 athletes in each heat were vying for one of 4 places, as well a chance for those that missed that cut-off to have their score get them a 5th and 6th place entry if their scores were next best over the two heats. They'd be joining Skiers Brendan Mackay from the Winsport Academy in Calgary; American Olympian Aaron Blunck; 2nd oldest of the Kiwi Wells clan, Byron Wells; Squamish local Mike Riddle, fresh from his SFR win in Tignes; Whistlerite and X-Games Halfpipe Gold Medalist Simon D'artois; and The US's Alexander Ferriera (who famously flashed us at last year's Big Air). The low snowline was a beautiful thing to behold on the ride up and although low cloud looked threatening in places, light snow and only one visibility hold were the only mars on the days competition. Lighting was best mid-morning but the competition was fierce throughout the day. The Men's first Heat saw 6 athletes make the cut: Ryan Malone (77.67), also a Winsport Academy athlete, Broby Leeds (82.00) from the States, Calgarian Kris Atkinson (79), Boulderite Lyman Currier (92.33) and kiwi Beau James Wells (84) - the long haired third child of the Wells dynasty; as well as Canadian Olympic team skier Matt Margetts with a stylin' 89.33 in his first run. Heat 2 saw 'merican Birk Irving (85.67) advance to the finals with two consistent runs; along with Jacob Beebe (75.67) from Mt Bachelor; Jake Mageau from Oregon (83) and US Olympian and amplitude dominator Torin Yater Wallace (87.33) clearing outta the lens of photographers on the lip. After some warm up laps by all the riders, the women's finals commenced. Megan Gunning and Cassie Sharpe were unable to compete, leaving 9 competitors to narrow it down in the Superpipe and the girls were on their game, as per. Britta Sigourney fell skiing switch on her first run but scored a respectable 70.33 on her stylish second run. The competition between the top three women was wild. US Olympic Silver medalist Devin Logan came third (80.33); with Canadian Keltie Hansen completely stomping two smooth runs (88.33) and US Olympian and potential Red Sox fan Annalisa Drew killing it in both laps but her final run of 90.33 stole the show. The crowd was now in full swing with an eclectic mix of Trap, Hip Hop and even the Backstreet Boys providing a backdrop for the Men's finals. The finals kicked off and the expanding crowd of awed onlookers; pumped coaches and proud parents were witness to an extraordinary display of skiing. These athletes spend countless hours honing their skills in a sometimes unforgiving discipline. Falling flat in a 22 foot superpipe ain't easy on the body and the skill and determination of these competitors is to be commended. That said, the veterans of this newly returned discipline to WSSF showed why they're at the pinnacle of their field. Both Kiwi Wells brothers showed their trademark flare, with Byron even cheekily clearing the fence on the last lip for Newschoolers' Troy to get the shot. The Canadian Team athletes are a very tight and supportive crew and were no doubt pleased to perform in front of a home crowd. Team Coach Trennon Paynter was up top dolling out encouraging fist bumps and bat packs to his athletes. Mike Riddle unfortunately didn't finish his first run trying a new right side double cork 1260. Whistler local Simon D'Artois, who unprecedentedly was the first canadian to win the XGames Gold Medal in Aspen in January, stomped in to 5th place (84), with fellow Canadian Team mate and Moe Joes lover Matt Margetts laying down two cleanly executed runs in 4th (87). Third place on the podium went to trickster Byron Wells from his sick second run (87.67). Second place went to Lyman Currier on the back of his stellar second run also (88.67). First place however went to the cape crusader, wearing his trademark open jacket, Torin Yater Wallace from Aspen. His airs and dialed tricks were the biggest, scoring two runs in the 90s - just like his birthday - 90.33 and 94.00. The Superhit contest followed, allowing any athlete to have participated in the day to challenge for the prize of a sports bike. Keltie Hansen nailed it for the women and Alex Ferreira laced it up to take it for the Gents. That's a wrap on yet another awesome AFP World Tour here at WSSF. I hope you got to see some of the high intensity action from the World's greatest Freestyle skiers too! Written by Laura Hanlon Photos by Laura Hanlon