Last season it was the nine–this year it’s the 1080 that’s separating the elite from the masses. Norway’s Daniel Franck was visibly dominating with a complex trick combination including a struggle-free, inverted frontside 1080. Franck had qualified first from Saturday’s competition, and because the finals ran in reverse-qualifying order, he went last and blew everyone’s bets on who had the winning run.
But let’s get on to the important stuff–the Americans, because incase you haven’t heard, the Grand Prix contests are Olympic qualifiers for the United States. Mammoth resident Luke Wynen surprised even himself with a clean and boosting run that landed him in second-place and officially in the running for the men’s Olympic team. And Ross Powers, bronze medallist at the 1998 Olympics in Japan, earned third with smooth switch McTwists and frontside nines.
Rest assured that there were a lot more people ripping out there beyond these three. Danny Kass, a top contender for the Olympic team and winner of Thursday’s competition, nearly missed practice (which had been moved up an hour in anticipation of the afternoon’s quarterpipe contest). He only took three runs in the halfpipe all day, including one warm up, but rode with amazing focus and became one of the few riders to pull the elusive 1080. One wonders, then, what he was doing way down in seventh place.
Impressive stunts were also pulled by Keir Dillon, Andy Finch, Travis Rice, and JJ Thomas. These guys, and truly every American in the contest, remain with horns locked for the four quota spots up for grabs. No pressure, it’s only the Olympics at stake.