Today was short and sweet—the final eight women and sixteen men alternated, and in under two hours, we had the results. But some serious riding went down in those two hours. There were two battles going on—one was between Shaun and Louie and the second between Gretchen and Kelly. Let's start with the girls. The women's field had two completely new faces—fifteen-year-old Maddie Schaffrick from Steamboat Springs and 21-year-old Queralt Castellet, who actually competed in the 2006 Olympics for Spain and has been on the World Cup circuit, both looked like seasoned competitors in the pipe with clean comfortable style mixing up their finals runs. Kelly stuck her best run on the first round dropping before Gretchen and blasting her way down. She was all confidence and "feeling great" going into this event and it showed. Gretchen wobbled her Cab 7 on her first run and was noticeably nervous about her one chance to get back on the podium after that. In the final round, she pulled through and put he Cab 7 down and it was smooth sailing from there. Kelly held on to the lead.
Let's step back for a second and address the obvious question of where the other big players are in these results. Some of the favorites to win—Mason Aguirre, Luke Mitrani, and Kevin Pearce—never advanced from yesterday's qualifiers; they just couldn't duplicate their perfect practice runs, that's all there is to it. With that said, the top ten finishers look a lot different than we would have expected coming into this event. Danny Davis was charging, and put down an insane frontside double cork on his second run, but wiped out on the next hit. Ryoh Aono blew minds with his perfect, HUGE run down the pipe, but he decked out on the last hit and was the one injury of the day. Yesterday's number-three finisher Greg Bretz had a perfect run starting with what we're voting the Straight Air Of The Day™ (one straight air per run is mandatory in the Grand Prix series and the Olympics, too), he also threw a frontside double cork, but it wasn't enough—he's one to watch for sure though. Local boy Zack Black from Breckenridge took the pipe by the reins and stayed consistent through both runs and surprised even himself with his third place finish—also of note is that he landed the first switch backside 1080 in competition. Check his full run below.
But there are two riders who never faltered: Shaun and Louie. Shaun took the lead in the first round and had the advantage of running after Louie. Louie went out and threw down yesterday's qualifying run upping the rotation on his backside five to a nine, but got a little low landing on his last hit which might have been the difference between first and second. Shaun’s second run was a victory lap.
The next Grand Prix is a double header with two pipe finals January 5–10, 2010 at Mammoth—click here for the schedule.
3. Soko Yamaoko, Japan, 40.2
4. Queralt Castellet, Spain, 39.5
5. Ellery Hollingsworth, USA, 35.8
6. Madeline Schaffrick, USA, 35.5
7. Holly Crawford, AUS, 24.0
8. Clair Bidez, USA, 13.6
4. Frederik Austbo, Norway, 41.2
5. JJ Thomas, USA, 41.1
6. Greg Bretz, USA, 40.0
7. Steven Fisher, USA, 39.4
8. Tore-V Holvik, Norway, 34.8
9. Ryoh Aono, Japan, 34.0
10. Jack Mitrani, USA, 28.8
11. Elijah Teter, USA, 22.1
12. Charles Reid, Canada, 18.8
13. Danny Davis, USA, 18.8
14. Scotty Lago, USA, 16.0
15. Dustin Craven, Canada, 9.0
16. Nathaniel Johnstone, 8.6
Illustrations by John Antoski