The air was crisp, but the sun was shining as the Grand Prix finals kicked off at noon on Saturday, December 16. The women started the competition and held it down with big frontside and backside airs and some spinning maneuvers of the 540 and 720 variety. Soko Yamaoka of Japan stood out with a huge first air and back-to-back fives in her second run, pulling in third place honors. The race was close for Kelly Clark and sixteen-year-old Elena Height who both had clean first and second runs complete with smooth sevens and nines, but Kelly eventually pulled out the win with higher, cleaner airs than the rest of the ladies.
Next came the men with an impressive mélange of rookies and veterans, albeit the noticeably missing Shawn White. Self-sponsored Rob Kingwill sold bandanas between runs in order to make enough money for a plane ticket back to Jackson Hole. Justin Lamoureux attempted both of his runs switch, but failed to make either one very clean. Louie Vito was looking to podium after his first run in which he proved that he has one of the nicest-looking 1080’s in the business, but couldn’t hold onto his second run. Other standouts included Breckenridge local-and therefore obvious crowd favorite-Steve Fisher, and Brad Martin of Whistler. But it was TransWorld Rookie of the Year Danny Davis who took the win with a rotation-heavy first run and unbelievable tweaked-out back-to-back 1080’s in his second run. Coming in a close second was Mason Aguirre with solid style and amplitude, with Tommy Czeschin taking third.
For an early season halfpipe contest, I’d say that this one went pretty well. It being an Olympic off-year, the pressure wasn’t quite so intense, allowing people to try new things and not just pull out their reliable stock runs. As Elena Hight put it, “We’re all out here competing, but when it comes down to it, it’s just fun and games.” And that’s what snowboarding’s supposed to be, right?
Click for the slideshow and check back for the hot footage from the sidelines.
1. Kelly Clark
2. Elena Hight
3. Soko Yamaoka
1. Danny Davis
2. Mason Aguirre
3. Tommy Czeschin