X Games Fourteen officially kicked off for snowboarding tonight with the Superpipe elimination round—and for just being the qualifiers, it was pretty bangin. Among the judges up in the tower were Forum pro Pat Moore, who’s recovering from shoulder surgery, and Colorado killer Chad Otterstrom. Sending it in the pipe were sixteen women and as many men, of which only six women and eight men would be moving on to the finals.

The action kicked off at the twilight hour with the women’s event. Torah Bright was absent from the start list after hitting her head in a recent practice, and Jamie Anderson apparently surrendered her spot to focus her energies on slopestyle. But Ellery Hollingsworth was there, linking up a tricky Cab to regular 720 combo into a Cab 900 that put her in a top-five spot. Hannah Teter and Elena Hight kept it smooth and stylish with back fives and front sevens (and a backside 900 for Elena). The real competition, however, wasn’t really about tricks but rather amplitude, and it was mainly between Gretchen Bleiler and Kelly Clark. Both women stepped up their runs from the first round to second in an effort to beat out the other. Bleiler upped her clean front five off the first hit to a savage frontside 900 second run, but the judges favored Kelly’s ante-upping technique—a flawless back-to-back 720s and the biggest air of the day for the women’s side, a juicy backside off the first hit.

On the men’s side, second through eighth was a throw-down match between many talented riders, but the number one spot was all sealed up from the get go. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Luke Mitrani arrived at the hill halfway through practice, frantically tossed a double-Michalchuk and some sweet rotations into a run, and finessed his way into a finals-making position. Louie Vito banged out back-to-back double-corks first run only to sit on a straight air, but he held it together second run (and threw in a 1260!), touching down just above the bubble position. What else? Kazu Kokubo’s electric second run (steezed-out McTwist, 10-to-10 combo, et cetera), bumped him up into fourth.

U.S. Olympian Greg Bretz and Iouri Podladtchikov duked it out for the podium spots. iPod’s lofty airs and double-cork ten into back-to-back nines beat out Bretz’s double-cork ten to Cab ten combo. But … of course, Shaun White had the top spot on lock, which was immediately clear after his first run. He simply had the biggest amplitude and most insane trick combos—massive backside air off the first hit and a litany of spins and double-cork madness. Everyone was sick, for sure, but Shaun was just sicker.


Women’s Elimination Results

1. Kelly Clark

2. Gretchen Bleiler

3. Elena Hight

4. Hannah Teter

5. Ellery Hollingsworth

6. Soko Yamaoka

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7. Queralt Castellet

8. Kaitlyn Farrington

9. Clair Bidez

10. Sarah Conrad

Men’s Elimination Results

1. Shaun White

2. Iouri Podladtchikov

3. Greg Bretz

4. Kazuhiro Kokubo

5. J.J. Thomas

6. Luke Mitrani

7. Louie Vito

8. Steve Fisher

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9. Antti Autti

10. Danny Kass