Who? Finland’s Heikki Sorsa won the X-Nix Countdown To the Gold Nokia Snowboard FIS World Cup at Park City, Utah today. For Sorsa it was his second win recently, as he also took a contest in Japan two weeks ago. Be advised, he’s another newcomer to watch for.

“I’m super stoked, everyone was riding so good,” Sorsa says. “This is my biggest win so far. Everybody was pushing it and the level was really high. It’s nice here. We don’t have such good pipes in Finland. I’ll definitely come back in the summer and I’d like to go to the U.S. Open as well.”

Sorsa edged out a tight field of competitors, some who were desperate for a good finish and valuable FIS points to qualify for the Olympics. Coming in second place was last year’s U.S. Open winner Guillaume Morisset. He was actually in first place after the first of two final runs with a score of 46.3, but Sorsa ended up edging him by five tenth’s of a point.

Sorsa’s inverted 720 to cab 720 to alley-oop frontside 540 and combination of huge airs took the win on his second and final run of the day. It was definitely do or die for all the competitors on the second run, and many pushed the edge and ended up falling, including the likes of Keir Dillon, Luke Wynen, Jan Michaelis, and Stefan Karlsson, who ended up in third with a strong first run.

Guillaume Morisset was stoked on the contest. “I think it was a great event,” he says. “Nice weather, nice pipe, too, and people were riding good–so it was a good contest.”

Going into the finals, he concentrated on the basics. “I had in mind to try to do the best possible. It was a good show for the crowd. I was impressed with Heikki, Shaun White, and Danny Kass.”

Morisset’s final run included a frontside indy, backside method, frontside 720, switch 7 inverted, and a frontside 9 inverted.

“I just thought that I should change my run three days ago, and then I tried it today and it worked well.” For Morisset, his schedule continues to be hectic. He has several stops in the next few weeks before returning to the U.S. Open to defend his title.

For third-place finisher Stefan Karlsson from Sweden, the formula was simple. “I tried to go as big as possible,” he says. “This is a sick contest and the riding was good. The whole crowd was pushing us. I know that everyone can go big, I’m just surprised everyone did it today.”

Indeed, to add a little excitement to the event, approximately 200 school buses brought in 8,000 school kids from around the state to watch. Many of the kids simply played in the snow, but for the most part the crowd was stoked to be at Park City and cheered for the huge tricks and moaned to the big crashes as well. It was obvious that MC Dave Duncan was getting a little annoyed about halfway through the event as he got repeated requests to announce bus departures.

The day started with 60 riders taking one run each. The top five scores qualified directly into the finals, while the next twenty got a second chance. For those, they had to be in the top five again, to round out the final ten.

Many riders don’t like the format, because it encourages the riders to be conservative on their first run because if they fall on it, they’re out of the game all together. Several surprise riders didn’t make the finals, including Ross Powers and Mike Michalchuck.

The U.S. athletes in particular were looking for some valuable FIS points as they’re falling short in overall FIS standings that will determine quota spots. Tommy Czeschin didn’t compete because he already has enough points to get one quota spot. While Todd Richards was a no show to the event, the trio of Danny Kass, Shaun White, and Keir Dillon put in a great effort and finished fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively. Luke Wynan came in eighth.

Men’s Final Pipe Results
1. Heikki Sorsa
2. Guillaume Morisset
3. Stefan Karlsson
4. Danny Kass
5. Shaun White
6. Keir Dillon
7. Magnus Sterner
8. Luke Wynan
9. Jan Michaellis 
10. Daniel Costandache