The results may have been the same, but the way that it happend couldn’t have been more different. For the second time in one month, Rob Kingwill and Shannon Dunn walked away winners (and again, $10,000 richer) from a Chevy S-10 US Grand Prix contest, this time at Breckenridge, Colorado.
In one of the most exciting halfpipe finals ever held, both Kingwill and Dunn saved the best for their last runs to pull off come-from-behind upsets. For Kinger, it was a loaded pack that included Tommy Czeschin, Ricky Bower, Luke Wynen, and Ross Powers all charging hard in the third Super-Pipe contest of the season. For Dunn, there was a new challenge from an Eastern newcomer who was going for broke.
But besides nail-biting finals, the weather at Breckenridge went from beautiful, sunny skies in the qualifying rounds, to near blizzard conditions with heavy gusts of wind threatening to obscure riders’ and judges’ visibility and even affect rider’s monster airs out of the Super Pipe.
In addition to the challenging conditions, the competition started early and fast. In the men’s finals where the top twenty each took two runs and the top score of the two counted, Ricky Bower dropped in an early sixth place, went big and stuck a backside Rodeo and Haakon flip at the bottom of the pipe, and threw down the gauntlet with a score of 38.9. With fourteen competitors still to go, including Powers, Kingwill, and Czeschin, it was doubtful that he’d hold on to the top spot. But after the first runs were completed, Bower was in first, followed by Powers and Kingwill, which meant everyone knew the second run was a do-or-die situation.
The second round commenced and the challenge was on. Adam Petraska, dropping tenth, looked like he might do it with a couple of huge straight airs and then back-to-back 7s to a 900, but he sketched the landing just a little and only got a 37 and seventh place overall.
The sixteenth rider was Czeschin, who also put together back-to-back 7s to a Haakon, inspiring a huge cheer from the crowd, and took the lead with a 40.1. Next, Powers was off balance and came up just short, as did Mark Reilly. (They ended fifth and sixth, respectively.)
Dropping third to last was Luke Wynen who had fallen his first run and was second to last. Proving that he was a contender, he went ballistic his second run to another big cheer of the crowd, but came up with a 38.9 to tie Bower (the tie breaker is the lower score of the two runs, which put Bower ahead).
Then Kinger, seeded as the last rider because he had won at Mammoth several weeks before, busted out his usual tricks for the repeat performance.
“The number-one thing I was thinking about was just going big, having a good amplitude, and keeping my speed,” said Kingwill afterward. “I did my Sato Flip on the frontside wall and the frontside 900 flip.” At the bottom the crowd went nuts as he stuck the final landing, but it was up to the judges. The scores came in slowly, but at the end totaled 41.3, putting him in first place and making him ten-grand richer.
For Kingwill it’s back home now. “I’m going to go ride powder in Jackson and film with my friends and be a real snowboarder for a little while.”
On the women’s side, Dunn’s challenge came from an unexpected source¿Mt. Snow local Kelly Clark who was blowing everyone’s minds with huge straight airs and a go-for-it attitude. Dropping in fifth, she posted the highest score of the women’s first round, again setting up the drama where the top competitors including Dunn, Natasza Zurek, Aurelie Sayers, and Kim Stacey all had one chance to catch her.
“I was just going big. I had my headphones on, turned my Madonna up, and I was ready to go,” said Kelly.” I was just thinking to myself, I’ve got to go big.” The Madonna tune? “Like A Prayer.” It almost paid off.
All the other women who went after her failed to post a better score¿but Dunn.
“I definitely wanted to step it up and see if I could win it,” said Dunn of her second run. “You might as well. You’re out here, freezing cold, and so I just tried my best.”
As for how she’s going to spend her $20,000 in prize money won in the last month, she says: “I don’t know. I’ll have to consult the husband about that one.” She just recently married pro snowboarder Dave Downing.