Michaelchuck, Dunn Steal The Copper Mountain Grand Prix Jan. 9, 1999 Copper Mountain, Colorado

In one of the most impressive shows of halfpipe hucking to date, Mike Michaelchuck and Shannon Dunn rode hard and took home the cash from the Chevy S-10 Grand Prix at Copper Mountain in Colorado on January 10. A perfect pipe, reasonable weather and hard competition runs made this halfpipe a true championship event.

The men’s competition was fierce with little room for error, as Keir Dillon and Mike Michaelchuck shared the spotlight–Michaelchuck spinning and Keir rocking the amplitude. In the end the judges were won over by Michaelchuck’s never-ending spinner madness. Pulling his traditional lofty Michealchucks, he added in some seriously tweaked Japan airs and kept his amplitude all the way down the pipe. At the bottom he pulled a rodeo into a huge method grab and then he went straight into an alley-oop McTwist 900 across the finish line.

Keir Dillon stepped up to a new level at the Copper Mountain Grand Prix, finally pulling his runs together when it really mattered. Lofting some serious height in his straight airs and putting in a McTwist, he held his amplitude all the way to the judges’ stand, but it wasn’t quite enough. He seemed happy enough with second though, knowing that coming in second to Michealchuck and beating Ross Powers is a victory in itself.

“The lack of sleep, the hurt knee, fighting with my girlfriend on the phone last night and my alarm not going off this morning really pulled it together for me today,” said Dillon. Powers had an off weekend in the halfpipe, sketching in Saturday’s qualifiers and falling off his first straight air hit. He also had a rough start in the super finals starting off in eighth place, moving up to fifth place in his second run and then nailing it his final run to finish in third place.

“It ended up pretty good, but I didn’t do as well as I did in practice. I am pretty sore from the weekend, but I am stoked for Michealchuck and Keir. Especially for Keir,” said Powers.

One of the biggest surprises of the day was the young JJ Thomas, from Golden, Colorado, who slid his way comfortably into the super finals, then almost blew it by falling during his first run. Fortunately, he didn’t let the fall effect his next two runs and he managed to pull lofty McTwists, Haakons, and straight airs into fourth place.

Ron Chiodi had a fairly good start, then sketched off the first hit in his second run, which threw off the rest of that run knocking him down a few spots. Then he pulled a solid third run which landed him in fifth place. Adam Petraska seemed a little off compared to usually, but still managed to air his way into sixth inspite of hanging up on the lip a few times. Seth Wescott rode hard in spite of a sore backside from a mean fall the previous day in the qualifiers and took seventh with his stylish, floaty airs.

Back in the game again after two year’s of injury, Lael Gregory made the super finals and happily took eighth place by pulling some amazing backside 540s mid-way down the pipe and some perfect lofty straight airs.

Matt Kass made the finals with a big smile on his face and Kass-erolled into ninth just behind the legendary Jimi Scott. Scott, of course won the award for the most diversity of tricks and pulled the perfect hand plant dismount out of the pipe. Zach Horwitz and Tommy Czeschin pulled in at eleventh and twelfth place with frontside rodeos and great amplitude.

In the women’s division Shannon Dunn quietly rode away with first place by throwing one of the loftiest McTwists mid-run and a frontside 720 to finish it off, stomping all three runs and scoring a combined total of 77.20. Michele Taggart followed in at a close second with 76.50 for her backside 540s. Tricia Byrnes was running it super solid with a strong first run that had back to back 540s and more amplitude than ever.

“This was so much fun. The weather was great and the pipe was perfect. The pressure is really off this year without the Olympics to think about,” said Dunn. She also meentioned that she would be using the money from her win for her upcoming wedding to Dave Downing in August.

Also in the women’s division Natasza Zurek was throwing down McTwists to frontside 540s and Kim Stacey had the most height on her straight airs. Maelle Ricker was looking strong in the beginning of the finals, but fell in her last run and sketched a bit in one of her runs.

Missing from the super finals was Cara-Beth Burnside, Aurelie Sayres, Catherine Nieves and a few other girls who were all riding strong, but didn’t quite make the final cut.

Rob Kingwill sidelined due to a sprained ankle, was on the microphone doing a great job of hosting this weekend with Mark Sullivan. The two commentators put more riders to shame than a gossip columnist at the Enquirer with their catty, but humorous remarks about every rider. They also helped foster the heavy “signature claiming” after every run, encouraging riders to create their pro claim, keeping it real, keeping it fun at the second Grand Prix at Copper Mountain. The next Grand Prix will take place in Sunday River at the end of February.