Gravity Games Day 4: Powers and Dunn Win in Halfpipe

Ross Powers wasn’t able to ride the Mammoth pipe during the US Grand Prix because he had a little trouble with the FIS. On Sunday January 24, he made up for it by throwing down a solid run in the Gravity Games at Mammoth Mountain and edging Tommy Czeschin and Keir Dillon for the gold.

“Yesterday I landed that mickey nine once, but I never practice it,” Powers said after his last run. “Today I don’t know. I just ended up looking down and I landed on my feet and just kept going. It wasn’t the smoothest, but I did it.”

Powers lives up to his reputation, and in the blowing snow that was tripping up some of the world’s best, he proved that he has developed the skills necessary to win in nearly any condition.

“Going through the flat it was slow when you got up on edge your bindings were dragging a little slowing you down,” Ross said. “It seemed like some people were landing a little flat and right in the snow and they’d they’d have no speed for the next hit.”

What was Powers’ secret? “The Wax on my board and I guess just riding for so many years and being able to ride in anything,” he said.

The ten finalists where given a 50 minute jam session to do six runs. For most of the session Mammoth’s own Tommy Czeschin was leading and the hometown crowd let everyone else know who was the favorite. He lead until Powers’ second to last run and then it was all Ross.

At the end of the contest there was relief on Keir Dillons face we he realized he had finished in third position. ” I pulled through,” he said, laughing. “It was so much fun. I think it should be best two of five runs though, then people like me can’t make it on a lucky run.”

Todd Richards, who finished first in his qualifying heat, ended up fifth in the finals behind Canadian Brett Carpentier. He was not happy with his performance. “It’s sucks,” he said. “It went from being the best to being the best wax. Now it’s just lame. There’s eight inches of snow in the flatbottom. But everyone else seems to be doing well, I just suck.”

Richards wasn’t alone. Mammoth local Jeff Anderson had four great runs filled with switch stale fish, methods, and a switch backside rodeo, but each of his runs was marred by small mistakes mostly caused by the snow in the pipe.

Markko Koski, the Finnish Lib Tech rider whom everyone talked about all weekend, couldn’t seem to nail his 1080s in the finals. During the qualifiers he was lofting the spins at least seven feet out, but on finals today he fresh-fallen snow was giving him big problems. On his last run he charged into the first hit and slide out on his heel-side edge smacking his head so hard that many in the crowd thought he’d been knocked out.

He may not have won, but he made a huge impression on the riders. “Luke (Wynen) and I were watching the Junior World’s on TV and we saw how he got so robbed,” said third place finisher Keir Dillon. “We were both joking about how good he was and that we hoped he would stay in Finland and not come and compete in North America. Now, here he is.”

On the women’s side Shannon Dunn may have won the hearts of the judges, but Kim Stacey rocked the crowd with six-foot triple-pumping methods on the first hit and a McTwists down pipe. As usual Anne-Molin Kongsgard rolled a little too hard and fell on some of her best runs, but even her okay runs were enough for second.

Somewhat Abreviated Results

1. Ross Powers
2. Tommy Czeschin
3. Keir Dillon
4. Brett Carpentier
5. Todd Richards

1. Shannon Dunn
2. Anne-Molin Kongsgard
3. Kim Stacey
4. Natasza Zurek
5. Tricia Byrnes