Wyatt Caldwell and Gretchen Bleiler edged out a tough pipe field to take the X-Nix 2002 US Snowboard Championships at Northstar At Tahoe, California this weekend. Under bright Tahoe-blue skies and scorching spring heat, the superpipe held up just long enough for the sixteen-man and eight-woman finals to be completed.
From Idaho, Caldwell surprised some of the top pipe names including the likes of second-place finisher Andy Finch, third-place placer Chris Nelson, fourth place Rob Kingwill, fifth place Luke Wynen, and sixth place Ross Powers.
The contest by the numbers: 16 men and 8 women in the finals.
The men’s final jam session was 45 minutes, women’s was 30 minutes. Riders were judged on overall impression by six judges. This left some a little confused as to what exactly they were getting judged on. USSA’s Jeremy Forster said the format was an experiment that won’t happen again.
Most of the men got five runs through the pipe, with an average of six tricks. The women got seven.
Kinger and Powers both got about 12 feet out of the pipe, while Finch and Elijah Teter got at least 10 feet out.
Caldwell’s assortment of tricks included a huge Haakon and back-to-back inverted sevens.
Coming in second place (or first loser, as the T-shirt reads), Finch hit his patented crippler sevens and nines.
Third-placer Nelson hit seven-to-seven combinations, stuck a clean (but no-grab 900), and launched a huge air to fakie.
In fourth place, Kinger made the biggest airs early in the heat, and landed such tricks as a corked-out backside nine.
On the women’s side, Bleiler edged out a tough Tricia Byrnes and Kim Stacey. Pipe favorite Kelly Clark was sitting at the bottom of the pipe watching because of two big crashes in the qualifying rounds that resulted in bruised ribs.
Bleiler put together back-to-back fives and a Michalchuk at the bottom.
This left room for some fresh faces in the finals like fourth placer Hanna Teter, Alexis Waite, Lindsey Jacobellis, Holly Lyons, and Sara Pehrson.