It was way too close to call in the AST Halfpipe at Snowmass, Colorado January 24, 1999. As Saturdays windstorm gave way to cloudy skies and light snow, 33 men and 29 got ready for competition.

Talk at the top of the pipe centered around the pipe. Riders had complained on Saturday that the pipe was not very good. Frank Wells and the crew from Snowmass took about a foot of snow out of the bottom and then re-cut the pipe. Unfortunately, it was not an improvement. “Yesterday it was okay,” said Jeff Billo. “Today it sucks.”

After a hour using rakes and blowtorches to reshape the transitions, the pipe was as ready as it could be for competition. During the qualification round most riders got the pipe dialed.

In the first run of the finals Chauncey Tanton mixed epic spins with booming amplitude to land a score of 35.7, just one tenth of a point ahead of Mark Radefeld. JJ Thomas had trouble landing one of his spins and ended up with a 31.2. On the second run the riders flopped their scores. Tanton had trouble at the bottom of the pipe. “This thing is so long,” he said. “By the time I got down to the bottom I just didn1t have anything left.”

Thomas on the other hand rode as close to flawless and anyone did all day mixing huge airs, a 720, and monstrous McTwist and was awarded a score of 35.7 tying Tanton1s first run score. Competition officials had to go to the Technical Merit score of each of the high scoring runs to decide the tie. Tanton got a 7.7 on his first run and Thomas got a 8.2 meaning JJ Thomas won the event by five tenths of a point.

In the women’s competition newly crowed FIS World Halfpipe Champion Kim Stacy won by nearly a point even though she sketched pretty solidly in both of her runs. Stacy edged Bianca Berger, and the fresh-out-of-retirement-and-working-full-time Griselda Skeehan (yes, she got married).

The AST Tour continues next weekend January 30, 1999 at Northstar-at-Tahoe.