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Photos: Aaron Blatt

Words: Hondo

Man halfpipe snowboarding is crazy. For an activity that a very small amount of people partake in, it sure is popular. When was the last time you rode the Superpipe at your local resort? Does your local hill even have a Superpipe? I’m going to guess and say your answer is never, and no. But that’s cool. It is still really cool to watch.

The Superpipe action at X Games 16 started with the Women’s this year. The girls were battling it out under the lights on Friday. It was freezing cold, and I think the late hour of the contest, and the weather really paid an impact to the ladies. Girls were still blasting though. My favorite of the night was Kaitlyn Farrington. She blasts huge backside 9’s on her first hit, not to mention she grabs the whole way through too. It’s really good to see. But I’m not a judge, and Kaitlyn didn’t place. The Women’s podium went like this Kelly Clark with gold, Elena Hight with silver, and Hannah Teter with bronze. Kelly goes way higher than all the other girls.

Women’s Snowboard SuperPipe

FINAL
RANKNAMERUN 1RUN 2RUN 3BEST
1Kelly Clark73.6690.0093.6693.66
2Elena Hight65.0080.6683.6683.66
3Hannah Teter35.0076.0012.0076.00
4Gretchen Bleiler12.6656.6665.0065.00
5Kaitlyn Farrington18.3360.0028.0060.00
6Cai Xuetong51.6639.6617.3351.66
7Torah Bright7.0032.6622.6632.66
8Maddy Schaffrick14.3311.0012.6614.33

Speaking of going high, holy shit do the dudes blast out of the pipe. It’s pretty nuts that the average hit out of the pipe for a top pro half-pipe rider is 15 1/2 feet out. It’s insane. Some of the riders that were blasting were Luke Mitrani, and Matt Ladley. Those guys were soaring, soaring like eagles.

The top three riders of the night were Ryo Aono, Ipod (Iouri Podladtchikov), and Shaun White. Ryo was slaying the pipe all night with crazy cat like style. But one thing I noticed is that on some of his hits he didn’t fully get his grab. But nonetheless, it was a pretty bitchen run. Ipod on the other hand did get his grabs, and he did a run that had two 1080’s and two 1260’s, and he still only got second place. He was killing it all night.

Let’s talk about Shaun White for a second. Can he be beat?  I honestly don’t think he can. From the moment he dropped into the halfpipe, everyone knew that he had already won. This Superpipe contest at X was really just a contest for second place. Shaun was riding on an entirely different level than everyone else.

Now I know that there has been some controversy as to whether or not he really deserved a perfect score. Well let me give you my take. I think it was a mistake to give out the perfect 100. Snowboarding is always evolving. If you say that something is perfect, that means that nothing will ever be better. But we all know that every other rider got a fire lit under their ass last night, and will be working extremely hard to get to the level that they need to be to compete. By saying that run was perfect, ESPN, and the judges capped the progression of snowboarding, which you and I know perfectly well is not done progressing at all. I bet that by this time next year we will see lots of dudes with runs as good as Shaun’s, but, what will Shaun’s runs look like. That’s the real question.

NameBib No.Hometown   Score
1.Shaun White520Carlsbad, Calif.100.00
2.Iouri Podladtchikov535Zurich, Switzerland93.00
3.Ryo Aono522Matsuyama City, Japan86.00
4.Christian Haller526Zernez, Switzerland83.00
5.Matt Ladley529Steamboat Springs, Colo.78.66
6.Louie Vito536Bellefontaine, Ohio70.00
7.Greg Bretz523Mammoth Lakes, Calif.60.00
8.Luke Mitrani533Mammoth Lakes, Calif.37.00