A pretty decent crowd showed up to watch the pipe contest at the World Snowboarding Championships on Friday, February 22. “I think that’s Ross Powers.. is that Ross Powers?” You could hear the kids in the crowd saying over and over again. The only problem was that the four U.S Olympic medal holders were not allowed to compete until the Games were officially over. But that didn’t stop the rest of the world’s best shreds from showing up for a chance at $20,000.

The contest was set up in a jam format where the riders get 60 minutes to get in as many runs as they can. This is my personal favorite. Why, you ask? Because it means that people are going to try new stuff instead of the same old contest run they have been doing for the past five years. In other words, people were really throwing themselves down the pipe.

Now I don’t want to be a jerk, but nowhere else was that more noticeable than in the women’s end of the contest. I mean, come on, let’s face it, a lot of times its pretty much a front side five contest. But I’m glad to report that this time around there was a lot more going down. Fifteen-uear-old Australian sensation Torah Bright was a stand out with steady eight to ten foot airs the whole way down the pipe. Everyone’s favorite, Michele Taggart made sure that no one forgot why she is still competing with sick backside 5s and solid frontside 7s.

When the judges handed in their votes, however, only three women would be getting paid. Barrett’s big backside airs and backside 3 into switch backside three combos put her into third place. Gretchen Bleiler was dropping in to backside fives to start off runs that included huge straight airs and front side 7s that stuck her into second place. The $15,000 women’s first prize would go home with Olympian Nicola Thost. With dude like style Nicola was throwin? down back-to-back 7s and huge air-to-fakies. “Were glad you’re back,” Tina Basich said to Nicola as she announced the winners. I bet there is a couple of girls out there that wish she had waited one more contest to come back.

When you tell a bunch of pro pipe monkeys like Keir Dillon, Trevor Andrew, Abe Teter, Shaun White, and Todd Richards that they have 60 minutes to try what ever they want you’re pretty much guaranteed to see some serious poop go down.

DCP’s backside 9 with Megan Pischke yelling, “He’s a good kisser too” was one of my favorites. Keir was throwing down huge McTwists and whole runs were he didn?t do one spin under ten feet high. Todd was doing warm up runs that could still win the Open. Wait. I would have to say one of my favorite sites of the day would have to be seeing J2 doing 8-10 foot switch front side cork sevens. That’s right I said J2. When I asked old dirty 2s what the hell he was doing in a pipe contest he said, “Somebody’s gotta come in last.” Touche.

Anyway, on to the winners: Andy finch threw down a run that would usually win any contest. He knocked in more huge flippy spinny tricks than you could shake a stick at. His run that day would only put him in third though. Damn only 10 g’s. My heart is breaking. Second place and $15,000 would go home with Shaun White and let me tell ya he earned it. Front side 9s into McTwists? What? Gigantic alley-oop rodeos, and smiling the whole time. But even Shaun couldn’t stop Michalchuk. Mike has been down for a while but he definitely ain’t out. Thirteen-foot frontside airs were not uncommon in Mike’s runs. The run that probably won it for him was chock full of gnar. Lets put it this way he did 5 flips in four hits and one hit was a straight air. You do the math. And while you’re at it figure out how much $20,000 U.S. is in Canadian, ’cause that’s what Michalchuk is spending right now.

Men

1. Mike Michalchuck – $20,000
2. Shaun White – $15,000
3. Andy Finch – $10,000
4. Abe Teter
5. Kier Dillon
6. Todd Richards
7. Trevor Andrew
8. Markku Koski
9. Kirk Short
10. James Beach
11. Elijah Teterr
12. Bjorn Leines
13. Kyle Klancy
14. David Carrier-Porcheron
15. Phillip Russell
16. Jason Rasmus
17. Jonas Emery

WOMEN

1. Nicola Thost – $15,000
2. Gretchen Beiler – $10,000
3. Barrett Christy – $5,000
4. Michele Taggart
5. Kim Stacey
6. Jaime MacLeod
7. Megan Pischke
8. Autumn Rose
9. Torah Bright
10. Alisa Mokler
11. Amy Johnson
12. Jonnel Janewicz
13. Marni Yamada