Video by Justin Gunson
All Photos: Nick Hamilton
Captions by Hondo
Stale Sandbech beats Horgmo and White to win 2014 Copper Grand Prix slopestyle
Part of the Five Stops To Sochi series presented by Mammoth
While US riders had the pipe on lock at Copper, Colorado this weekend, it was a different story at slope. As a World Cup stop, the Grand Prix brought together riders from around the globe looking to qualify for a spot on their country's Olympic team. Most noticeable were the Norwegians, who used the Dew Tour and will now follow the Grand Prix series to choose their Olympic team.
"We're just looking for the best contests that will most closely match the Olympics," said Norwegian team coach Thomas Harstad. "Were just looking for the biggest events with the best courses. That's how you can pick [the team] most fairly."
With other riders like Sweden's Sven Thorgren, Belgium's Seppe Smits, and Japan's Yuki Kadono in the mix, many of the world's best slopestyle riders were in attendance today (minus Mark McMorris and Seb Toutant, who have already qualified for the Canadian team and no longer need to compete until the Olympics in Sochi if they don't want too). With that lineup, the Copper Grand Prix was an early snapshot of many of the top riders we can expect to see at Sochi.
As the second qualifying stop of five for riders hoping make the US Olympic team, the Copper Grand Prix is a crucial event to earn early points. The US will likely pick four riders for the men’s Olympic slopestyle team.
It was a tough first round for many riders, but Shaun White set the bar on his first run. That run included a gap Cab 270 to 270 out on the first kink rail, frontside 270 on the down bar, and a 50-50 backside 180 on the battleship. Moving into the jumps he put down a switch double cork 1080, Cab double cork 1260, and backside double cork 1080. The judges scored that run a 90.75, putting him in first.
That lead would only last until Norway's Torstein Horgmo dropped in. Torstein went switch through the whole rail section with a gap switch backside 270 on the kink rail, switch frontside blunt 270 out on the down bar, followed by a switch boardslide 27o out. On the jumps he rolled away from a switch backside 900, frontside double cork 1080, and a backside double cork 1080, like only Torstein can do. With a score of 94.75, Torstein took the lead away from Shaun and put the pressure on.
And then there was Stale Sandbech's second run. After falling on the second rail trick of his first run giving him a score of 14.75, Stale had nothing to loose. He started off on the kink rail with a gap frontside hard way 270 before boosting to the top of the wallride with a frontside lipslide. On the battleship rail he kept it simple with a 50-50 gap to frontside 180, setting up for a hammer jump run. Stale spun off the first lip into a Cab 1260, unwound a backside flatspin 1440 on the next jump, and finished with a frontside 1080. The judges gave that a 97, and with Shaun and Torstein both falling on their runs, Stale was off to the highest spot on the podium.
"It feels really good," said Stale of taking out both Shaun and Torstein. "Since Shaun started riding slopestyle again, and always Torstein, it's been something I wanted to do—stand higher than them on the podium. I wish we got champagne, because I really wanted to spray down on both those guys when I had the chance. But maybe another time, hopefully."
The US riders struggled today, with Chas Guldemond finishing fifth. Ryan Stassel and Brandon Davis finished seventh and eight, while first place qualifier Sage Kotsenburg ending up in 14th after falling on both runs.
Top Four US Olympic Men's Slopestyle Standings
Points list based on top US rider placement
1. Chas Guldemond 1,800
2. Shaun White: 1,320
3. Sage Kotsenburg: 1,250
4. Brandon Davis: 1,100
5. Spencer Link: 790
6. Ryan Stassel: 780
1. Stale Sandbech (Norway)
2. Torstein Horgmo (Norway)
3. Shaun White (USA)
4. Emil Ulsletten (Norway)
5. Chas Guldemond (USA)
6. Sven Thorgren (Sweden)
7. Ryan Stassel (USA)
8. Brandon Davis (USA)
9. Scotty James (Australia)
10. Yuki Kadono (Japan)
11. Seppe Smits (Belgium)
12. Nuutti Niemelae (Finland)
13. Mans Hedberg (Sweden)
14. Sage Kotsenburg (USA)
15. Seamus O'Conner (Ireland)
16. Lucien Koch (Switzerland)