Richards, Dunn Take the World Cup (December 13, 1997)

Whistler Saturday as the halfpipe finals got underway after a long morning of semi-finals. Todd Richards showed up at the halfpipe only minutes before the finals and did his runs cold, of course walking away with first place like it was just all in a days work. Shannon Dunn was riding smoother than ever, pulling an impressive 720, which got the judges attention.

In the women’s runs Stine Brun Kjeldaas had two incredibly impressive runs, but they weren’t quite good enough to beat Dunn or second place Jennie Waara who pulled a switch 540. Canadian Natasza Zurek had an incredible first run and then fell on her second run, which bumped her out of the top spot.

In the men’s division Jake Blattner stepped up and showed the world he definitely knows his pipe with a flawless first run that gave him a 41.3, and must have had even Todd Richards sweating a bit. His first run consisted of a big air at the top, and alley oop 360, a switch McTwist, and a switch air. Unfortunately in Blattner’s second run he fell on the third hit and lost his top slot.

The Canadians had a strong presence at this Worldcup with five riders in the finals and three of them placing in the top six. Canadian Alan Clark also had quite a run with a frontside air to method, a backside alley oop indy grab, a tail grab to a frontside 540, an air to fakie, what we think might have been a poptart and then a rodeo flip. Clark was by far one of the smoothest riders all weekend consistently nailing every hit.

Another Canadian who stood out after a conservative run the previous day in the qualifiers was Michael Michaelchuck. Both of his runs consisted of method, frontside air, tail grab, a signature Michaelchuck flip which looks something like a backflip McTwist where he lands forward. From there he finished off with a backflip to fakie, a method grab, and a cab. While both runs were impressive, his first had an element of shakiness, which the judges must have noticed because the combination score of the two runs gave him fourth place overall.

From the USA, Jackson Hole local Rob Kingwill finally had his moment in the sun as he busted through the qualifiers and semi-finals and ended up with fifth place in the finals. Both of his runs were about the same with a strong method air to fakie, a switch 720, a frontside air, a tail grab, and a frontside 900. Kingwill who is known for his acrobatics said he opted to not go for the upside down tricks during the finals because the light kept getting worse throughout the day.

For the most part the halfpipe seemed to be in pretty good shape most of the day and the snow was solid. There were comments that the halfpipe was fairly flat at the bottom, but that didn’t seem to stop the competitors from maximizing tricks, usually getting about eight tricks in during their runs.