They are the champions of the world. crane©photo

Japan scored its first snowboarding World Champion when Forum rider Rio Tahara won $20,000 at the Superpipe Jam session at the World Snowboard Championship Sims Invitational Saturday April 22, 2000. Kim Stacey added another world title to her resume as she blasted her way through the blinding fog to take the women’s event.

“Thank you so much everyone,” Tahara said after finding out he had won. When asked what he was going to do with all the money he said, “I want to go visit my girlfriend in Australia.”

It was raining in Whistler Village and foggy on the mountain the morning of the Superpipe competition and the 24 men and 10 women wondered what would be awaiting them at the pipe. The night before it had snowed approximately 15 centimeters and the pipe hadn’t been holding up well during the qualifying rounds the day before.

Resort crews did their best to get the pipe into shape for the finals; however, with soft and inconsistent snow it was difficult. After Keir Dillon’s first practice run it was obvious that he wasn’t happy. “It’s pretty rough,” he said. “There are lots of holes and bumps on the walls. The pipe is definitely going to level the playing field.”

The contest was run in a “jam session” format. Riders were allowed make up to six runs in an hour with the highest single run counting for the final. Judges scored each run with an overall score based on the rider’s air, landings, amplitude, rotations, and overall technical merit.

While the jam session format may make it great for the spectators and improve the level of the riding from the competitors it makes it really tough to pay attention to what is going on. In one hour the 24 riders made 144 runs, or about two runs per minute.

Standouts included fourth place finisher Todd Richards who tried several times to nail his inverted backside 1080 but just couldn’t pull it off. He’s got the backside 9s down so smooth that people don’t even seem to notice them anymore, but not the 1080. “I don’t even want to talk about it,” Todd said. “I spun one out into the flat bottom. It was sweet.”

Tommy Czeschin had a similar problem on his final run while going for his 1080. He spun out into the flat bottom and immediately grabbed his right knee. He tried to stand but ended up taking his board off and being carried down to the bottom of the pipe.

Canada’s Justin Lamoureux, who placed second behind Rio Tahara, had no problems with the pipe, in fact, he put down an entire run switch. “I don’t really train pipe that much,” he said. “I spend most of my time freeriding and where I live there are a lot of rocks and nasty mogul gremlins hidden under the powder so the little bumps in the pipe really don’t bother me that much. I think people who are used to riding perfectly groomed pipes had a harder time in here.”

The women had the roughest time. Their jam session came up earlier in the day when the fog was in full effect. While they were making runs it was nearly impossible to see the riders or even the pipe. Several times the contest had to be halted for nearly five minute to allow the fog to blow out enough for the judges to see the women’s rruns.

On Michele Taggart’s final run she just shrugged her shoulder at the bottom and said, “I couldn’t see a thing.”

Kim Stacey didn’t let the fog slow her down and boosted her huge backside airs and spins to stay ahead of France’s Dorianne Vidal, and teammate Tricia Byrnes who finished third.

At the close of the contest the guys where given a half an hour for a “best hit” contest. The riders would judge each other and decide who would get the winner-take-all $10,000 prize.

The real contest ended up being between Lael Gregory and Todd Richards. Lael was going for his huge backside 9s and Todd tried to land his inverted, backside1080s again. He landed the 9s no problem, but was bummed that he couldn’t pull the 1080.

The riders voted for Lael and he walked with the $10,000. While Richards was happy for Lael, he was visible upset about not landing his trick. Keir Dillon summed up his feelings perfectly, “He’s done it, and he can do it and he just lost ten mutha f-ckin’ geez,” he said laughing.

Lael was ecstatic about his win. “It’s a trick I’ve been working on for quite a while,” Lael said. “This is the first time that I’ve stuck it that well in a contest. Boy, does it feel good. This was the best time ever to stick it.”

1 TAHARA Rio JAP Forum 3.00
2 LAMOUREUX Justin CAN 686 Enterprises 3.33
3 BRUNNER Therry SWI SIMS 4.00
4 RICHARDS Todd USA Morrow Snowboards 4.50
7 MORISSET Guillaume CAN CSF 6.00
8 CARPENTIER Brett CAN Airwalk 8.00
11 ANDREW Trevor CAN BURTON11.83
12 CZESCHIN Tommy USA USSA 12.33
13 AUTHIER Gab CAN Ride Snowboards13.50
15 CLANCY Kyle USA Salomon 15.83
16 BRUN KJELDAAS Arild NOR Ride Snowboards16.67
17 PERRAULT Charles CAN Option / NFA 17.83
18 BOWER Ricky USA Volkl Snowboards 18.67
19 SODERQVIST Jacob SWE Alliance 19.00
20 TETER Abe USA BURTON 23 19.17
23 REILLY Mark USA Nitro Snowboards 21.00
24 WYNEN Luke USA SIMS/686 Enterprises 22.33

1 STACEY Kim USA Volkl Snowboards 1.33
2 VIDALE Dorianne FRA Rossignol 1.67
3 BYRNES Tricia USA USSA 3.67
4 HESSO Minna FIN Salomon 4.00
5 TSHARNER Martina SWI Westbeach 4.33
6 GLAZIER Lori CAN Ride Snowboards 6.50
7 NIEVES Catherine USA Burton 7.17
8 TAGGART Michele USA Salomon 7.83
9 ZUREK Natasza CAN BURTON 9.17
10 RICHON Pauline FRA Rossignol 9.33