Despite the assurances of a clearing storm from the weather-lady, snow fell all day and into the night for the pipe finals at Winter X. The expertly crafted pipe, care of Snow Park Technologies and Frank Wells, collected snow as the fans and riders scaled the pipe to survey the scene. A few side slips from the event staff and the pipe was good to go for the drama of the big show.
The top ten riders battled their way into the finals through a heated prelim. Shaun White bounced off his backside in the first round of the prelims and set the audience on edge. Shaun White doesn’t fall--especially not on television! Fortunately he came through and qualified third. The weather, crowds, hype, and live television--that squeezed runs between snowmobile racing and college hoops--all added to the dramatic mix.
Luke Wynen set the tone by blasting huge and linking two sevens into two nines in his first run and three nines in his final run. Wynen’s run earned him the number five spot, but it would be the 1080 that broke riders into the top of the heap. Shaun White had the high score after round one after nailing down boosty run topped by a 1080 on the final hit of the pipe, but Danny Kass upped the ante in round two by nailing a ten off his first hit and linking classic Kass-style sevens well overhead. Kass led White going into the third round and wanted to nail down his lead with back to back tens (Cab to frontside), but scrubbed a little speed after the second hit and had to settle for his second run score -- just .33 better than White.
Mixing things up, Shaun charged straight into a huge front five/McTwist combo and finished things off with a 900, 720, and a 1080. The run was huge, but not enough to surpass Kass’s 90.33. The whole show had been floating around Kass and White’s dual for the top spot, but the two top qualifiers, Flow’s Antti Autti and Palmer rider Andy Finch, still sat on top of the u-jump ready to get their final runs right. Both Autti and Finch had decent runs in the first two rounds, but decent only goes so far in the finals.
The lone international representative in the final (and recently crowned FIS Halfpipe World Champion), Autti had all of Aspen wondering if the Finn could upset the all-American field. His final run was all he needed to make center stage. Firing straight into a Cab 1080/frontside 1080 link followed by boosty 720 and two 900 spins, Autti knew he had dropped the bomb he needed to take over the top spot. Smooth, huge, and tech from roll in to roll out, Autti had it all.
Finch broke the 1080 trend, but twisted inverted through nines with incredible amplitude. Andy went ginormous on every hit and finally dialed in his landings and speed just right. His McTwist was boned just right and each rotation and poke in the right place all the way down. The wait between the end of his run and the posting of the score was excruciating. Kass and White stood together on the sidelines, Autti was celebrating with friends, and Finch waited it out with his parents. Autti’s combos and style won out in the end--1080 (or two) was the magic number on a night of heavy hits.
1. Antti Autti
2. Andy Finch
3. Danny Kass
4. Shaun White
5. Luke Wynen
6. Tommy Czeschin
7. Mason Aguirre
8. Mike Goldschmidt
9. J.J. Thomas
10. Travis Rice