Shaun White and Gretchen Bleiler both dominated the amazing superpipe finals of the Vans Championships, at Bear Mountain, California, which was the third and final stop on the Vans Triple Crown of Snowboarding. The Snow Ninja (White) scored his second win of the epic weekend after taking the slopestyle the day before. And like the slopestyle competition, he toyed with the other competitors in the superpipe before boosting a huge second run and blowing away the point spread, posting a high score of 95.3. The only one who came close was Norway’s newcomer Marius Otterstad, who put together a second-best score of 91.7.
White won $12,000 for first place in the superpipe, to add to the 12 g’s he took home for the slopestyle the day before. Not bad for the 16-year-old phenom. “I’m really stoked. This is my home mountain and it’s really good to win here,” he said after the event.
Conditions played a big role in the standout performances. The pipe was in great shape, the skies were cobalt blue, and if anything, it was almost too warm. But Bear Mountain’s maintenance crew threw bags of salt on the pipe throughout the day, keeping it in great shape.
For the men’s finals, the 30 top competitors got to take two runs each, with only the high score counting. Then the 20 highest scorers got to take one more final run in reverse order according to their scores, and the highest score of the three runs counted for the final results.
The guys were going off. White threw down a run that included a frontside 9, McTwist, frontside 7, cab 7, and an alley-oop Michalchuk, all with speed, amplitude, and some of the smoothest rotations and stomped landings seen.
Second-place finisher Otterstad will definitely win his fair share of contests in the future. “I like to go fast and high,” he says. And he did, boosting huge out of the pipe. His run included a giant alley-oop Michalchuk to back-to-back Haakon flips, and big straight airs in between.
Andy Finch rounded out the top three, with his combination of crazy inverted fives and sevens down the pipe. In fourth place was a young Finn to watch, Antti Autti, who landed one of the only 1080s of the contest, and also added a cab seven and nine to his list of tricks.
Taking fifth place was the ever solid Tommy Czeschin. Although it wasn’t enough for a podium spot, it was good for a Ticket To Ride spot at the Arctic Challenge coming up next month. He was stoked to get the invite.
The women actually started things off for a change, and got to ride the pipe while it was still firm, fast, and pretty much perfect. Having won the previous Triple Crown event in Mammoth, Bleiler was the top seed and went last. Her first run consisted of a Crippler 540, backside 540, frontside 540, and another Crippler at the bottom of the pipe, all done with great amplitude. The first run was scored a 95.3–a full five points ahead of the next competitor, and no one came close in the next two runs in the best-of-three finals.
“It’s all clicking right now for me,” she said of her third big win in the last month. “All of the sudden, everything’s coming together.” Maybe she’s been inspired to show the world what she’s capable of, especially after being dropped by her board sponsor, Salomon, earlier in the season. (Somebody sponsor Gretchen!)
Bleiler was definitely on a level above the rest of the women, although standout performances also came from Tricia Byrnes, who was boosting higher than anyone, and Norway’s Kjersti Buaas Oestgaard, who threw two 540s and some big airs in the mix.
After such epic, warm, So Cal conditions, an awesome pipe, and big, challenging slopestyle course, most of the competitors were lamenting their coming trip to the Ice Coast for the Open. But if they perform at the Open anything like they did at Bear, it’s going to be another great contest as well. Let’s just hope it doesn’t get ruined by a war.
Vans Championships Superpipe Final Results
1. Shaun White
2. Mariuus Otterstad
3. Andy Finch
4. Antti Autti
5. Tommy Czeschin
6. Gian Simmen
7. Vinzenz Lups
8. Halvor Lunn
9. Mikka Hast
10. Wyatt Caldwell
1. Gretchen Bleiler
2. Tricia Byrnes
3. Kjersti Buass Oestgaard
4. Hanna Teter
5. Natasza Zurek
6. Doriane Vidal
7. Stine Brun Kjeldaas
8. Alisa Mokler
9. Autumn Rose
10. Elena Hight