Photography by Frode Sandbech / Words by Jason Horton

On a gray and rainy day, twenty minutes from Oslo’s city center, the walls of the world championship Superpipe glowed in the mist. The stage was set to perfection. Mist and rain might not sound like ideal conditions, but it makes for a great pipe contest, as the moisture makes the snow run even faster, allowing for epic amplitude.

Besides a primo pipe, fast snow, and a solid field of riders (notable absence: a certain ginger ninja) the most progressive aspect in Oslo is the scoring system. Judges score runs on a trick-by-trick basis, with the four best hits counting, for a maximum of 60 points, then award up to 40 more points for an overall flow score. ‘Flow’ being an overall impression based upon technical difficulty, execution and amplitude. During the action replay, the screen flashes the trick name and score for each hit, as well as how it matches up against tricks done on that part of the wall by other riders. Throw in some super slo-mo and you’ve got a super slick TV production, a transparent judging format and less hating on the judges (maybe).

The ladies kicked things off, and once again Kelly Clark took control from the start, nailing a run with the extra amplitude and technicality that has allowed her to dominate the discipline for so long. But, the gap is closing and it’s no longer the formality it used to be. In second, the tiny Spaniard Queralt Castellet pulled a solid backside 900 and wrapped up with a frontside 1080 that was bigger than her first hit – props. Gretchen Bleiler pulled together a run that included a rare Frontside 900 to Backside 900 combo to finish up in third.

For the men speculation about who would end up on the top spot had been rife all week long. The balance between technical difficulty and amplitude is a tricky one, and it’s pretty frustrating to watch. For example, one of Frederik Austbo’s insanely high and stylish frontside alley-oops was scored lower than a head-high, hip wiggling, no-grab 1080. And that was a frequent occurrence. But the main subject for discussion: did Iouri “Ipod” Podladtchikov get robbed by Louie Vito at the last Dew Tour, and would his greater amplitude be enough to outgun Louie’s quadruple double combo this time around?

The first round saw all riders coming out all guns blazing, and combined with the super fast snow it made for some intense runs… and slams. That was until Ipod arrived and threw down his A-game run. His run consisted of a double Mctwist 1260 to frontside double cork 1080 to double cork Cab 1080 to frontside 1080. Boom. With his long wavy hair and aristocratic facial hair, Ipod might look like d’Artagnan, but there’s nothing cavalier about his halfpipe riding. Afterwards, Ipod joked: “It’s pretty much as much spinning as I can do”

Matt Ladley ended up in second place, and hot damn does he go huge. His first hit frontside 1260 was ballistic, and where most would start big and gradually get smaller, Ladley just kept going higher. His Haakon flip on the last hit was something else. Going that much bigger with a relatively small rotation and great style sure is enjoyable to watch in a discipline that’s becoming increasingly filled with rapidly gyrating whirlybirds.

Louie Vito got third and judging by the “Hi Hater” scrawled on the palm of his mitt, some of the judging gossip has been getting back to the Tiny Dancer, however it didn’t stop him from throwing down a clean second run with enough style and amplitude to silence the critics. That run consisted of a double crippler, a sick double backside Rodeo 900, Frontside 1080 double to cab 1080 double. But, it wasn’t the cleanest or biggest run of the day, and Louie knew it.

Ipod’s winning run.

Kelly’s winning run.

Results:

Men’s

1. Iouri Podladtchikov 90.8

2. Matt Ladley 87.6

3. Louie Vito 86.9

4. Taku Hiraoka 86.3

5. Nathan Johnstone 85.8

6. Christian Haller 82.4

7. Ryo Aono 80.3

8. Benji Farrow 77

9. Markus Malin 75

10. Peetu Piiroinen

Women’s

1. Kelly Clark 86.6

2. Queralt Castellet 85.6

3. Gretchen Bleiler 82.9

4. Rebecca Sinclair 74.7

5. Cilka Sadar 74

6. Elena Hight 69.7

7. Ursina Haller 66

8. Soko Yamaoka 60.7

9. Nadja Purtschert 33.6

10. Mercedes Nicoll 25.6