On a borrowed board and in thrilling come-from-behind fashion, Rob Kingwill won his second contest this season, holding off a tough field at the Chevy S-10 Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain, California.
In a best-run-out-of-two final, Kingwill saved his best for last and stuck what people are calling the 900 flip at the bottom of the pipe to seal a victorious run that also included a Haakon flip and several really big airs. Of the five judges, the amplitude gave him the highest individual score of the event with a 9.3 out of 10. His total was 42.7, edging out the rest by a more than a full point, and earning Kinger $10,000 for two days of pipe riding.
“I just said to myself that I’m either going to crash horribly or I’m going to land it and win this thing,” Kingwill said. “I’ve been kind of terrified to throw out any tricks in any of these big pipes, but I was being beaten after the first run and I had nothing to lose so I decided to just go for it.”
The pressure was on Kinger because he was the fourth of twenty finalists to take his runs. The seeding was determined through the qualifying runs held Friday, and the top riders got to go last–including local favorite Tommy Czeschin and helmet posse rider Adam Petraska.
After Kinger’s first run, he was in second behind Luke Wynen who was going huge. Kingwill watched as Wynen stuck another great run his second time through, only to be topped by Lael Gregory, who was next down and stuck a 720, a Cab 720, and several equally huge straight airs.
Rob dropped in fourth, blew away everything that came before, and took the lead. “I’m stoked I landed on my feet again,” Kinger said. ” It’s the eighth time I’ve ever done that trick in my entire life. I’ve landed every one I’ve tried and I still don’t really know how to do it.”
After that all Rob could do was watch as some of the best halfpipe competitors in the U.S. took their final runs, knowing that they couldn’t hold back.
One rider who didn’t was Todd Richards, who made the most of his specialty–technical spins–and landed in second place with an overall score of 41.2. His rotations score was a 9.2, boosting him up the ladder. Todd hadn’t planned on doing many pipe competitions this year and kind of fell into this one. “I was going to meet my girlfriend here so we could drive back down to Southern California so I really wasn’t going to do this contest, then she didn’t even show up so I had to do it anyways,” he said. “But this was fun. This pipe is great, you can just rail in it.”
In a surprise, third place went to New Jersey local Mark Reilly who also had a great second run that showed huge airs and a high amplitude score.
On the women’s side, Shannon Dunn was the top qualifier, dropped in last for the first run of the finals, had the highest score at 39.7, and wasn’t challenged in the second round. However, knowing the win was her’s, she didn’t hold back on the second run, scored a 40 around a MacTwist and 720, and served notice that she’s still one to chase in halfpipe competitions. Of course the $10,000 didn’t hurt as motivation, either.
Shannon, as usual doesn’t know why she won. “I don’t know,” Shannon said. “It’s all about luck. I haven’t ridding the pipe in a long time so I guess it’s just luck. I do want to say that Jeff Anderson had a really progressive run with switch stuff and I think he should have been on the podium, but I don’t think the judges noticed. It was one of the most progressive runs I’ve ever seen.”
Fellow Burton team riders Natasza Zurek and Cara-Beth Burnside ended up in the second and third places, with Zurek sticking a Mactwist, and CB going for a 540 and 720 Ally-oop.
Last week’s Van’s Triple Crown pipe winner Ross Powers was noticeably absent from the competition, but hanging out on the sidelines. He was victim of a drug test in which he tested positive to taking stimulants.
Ross who has obviously gotten the drug question too many times in the past few weeks was able to lauggh it off with a list of jokes. “I tried out some of that Polo cologne and some of it seeped into my system and somehow I failed the drug test,” he said. “Then the next one I went to they said drug test so I tested all of them.”
USSA officials say that the stimulant Ephedra was in a supplement that Powers had been taking and he didn’t realized that it would produce the positive test. He is on suspension for one month and expects to be back competing at the Breckenridge Grand Prix in early January.
The US Grand Prix continues tomorrow with the Super-G which will be one of the fastest, longest snowboard races in the world. Stay tuned.