The sun burst through my window this morning, waking me before my alarm clock. The crisp cold air greeted me as I opened the door to leave. There was also an excitement in the air, one that was evermore present as I crossed the parking lot.
Thousands had already arrived and there were rumors of a twenty-mile traffic jam. As I walked up the hill to the pipe I noticed the decks of the pipe were already jammed with bodies, a smile came across my face. I had a TV pass that let me through all checkpoints. I simply climbed to the first level of the tower at the bottom of the pipe, sat down next to the heater, said hello to Morgan Lafonte, Gunny, and Jennifer the stage manager and grinned. I had a great view.
The women’s qualifier was in progress when I had arrived. It was a beautiful day and all the women were ripping. Stine Brun Kjeldaas qualified first. The finals were a best of three runs format. In the first round Natasza Zurek killed it. Aurelie Sayres was doing some impressive moves and Kim Stacey was going huge out of the pipe.
Round two saw Barrett Christy steal the show with a flawless run that included a backside 360 and a frontside cab¿two tricks you don’t often see girl’s trying. Stacy Kelly kept the heat on with her huge airs and Carabeth Burnside showed her skills in a most impressive run. The last run was exciting with the competitors letting it all hang out. Stine was the last girl to go, at the start of her run Barrett Christy was sitting in first, followed by Natasha and Stacey. After Stine’s run, Barrett would get the silver and Natasha would get bronze.
The men’s qualifier immediately followed the women’s finals. It was an exciting qualifier, with Todd Richards qualifying first. Props go out to Kier Dillion for his absolute reckless abandon on the first hit. Although he never rode away, he definitely was going for it.
Another notable is Shaun White; he rode really well, going as big as the rest of the field. The clouds rolled in for the finals and even started to snow a little.
The finals could have been renamed the Todd Richards/Ross Powers show. All the dudes were giving unbelievable runs, but it was these two who were just dominating. Again it was a best of three runs final with a running order of last qualifier first, ending with the first place qualifier. On his second run Todd took the lead with a run to intense to describe. That meant everybody would simply have to put it all on the line in their last run. Ross did just that. His last run was amazing. He definitely did the biggest backside air of the day and even through in an inverted 900 for good measure. Unfortunately for him it wasn’t enough to topple Todd’s previous score. Ross was in second. Tommy Czechin had qualified in second and was the last person who could take Todd down. He gave it a good try, but at the end he couldn’t prevail. Medals go as Todd ¿ gold, Ross ¿ silver, and Tommy ¿ bronze.
If you love halfpipe riding at its best, I strongly urge you to look in your local listing and find out when this will be aired and tune in. It will blow your mind how good all these athletes are.
The reality of television hit me for the first time yesterday and the scary part was it was a lot like I’d already seen on television. This week at the X-Games I’m helping ESPN out a little and they’re giving me some cash. Hey, it’s easier than pounding nails!
So my new t.v. career began yesterday morning with the talent coordinator Susie and her two assistants Dieje and Michelle helped me get set up. They had to hold my hand all day while they got me my passes, a room, and an idea of what I was supposed to be doing. Being just one of their many problems, I mean “talents,” I can only image how much the have to go through every day. Just thinking of how hard they work has actually mellowed a portion of the leeriness I have for all big televised snowboarding contests, that and the harsh realization II’m getting something out of it too.
Lucky for me, Susie and Dieje helped me get to my group this morning cause I was completely confused. There are so many people behind the scenes that I was getting dizzy. To make it worse the whole show’s broken up in to four groups¿ESPN TV (my outfit), event TV, media, and event organizers¿so it’s easy to get confused when you ask a question about one thing to someone from a different group.
Phil is the head dude for me. I meet him for the first time today during the Women’s Slopestyle Finals. He was in the production van (I think that’s what they call it). There was about ten people in what is basically a semi trailer with thousands of wires running in and out in headsets staring at thirty monitors exclaiming orders to others who may or may not be in the van. I felt in the way. There was nothing for me to do so I just sat down and stared at the monitors too. “Cut to seventeen in three, two, one, cut to twenty-one in three two one.” I finally found out whom it is telling the people at the start to tell the athletes to go in “three, two, one.” I felt like I was hanging out with the wizard in the land of OZ as I watched the Women’s Slopestyle Final in that van.
By my estimation Barrett Christy had the most solid run. But Tara Dakides did do the big rail that no other girl would even attempt, and some other snazzy things. I suggest you watch it on Friday 2/4/00 and decide for yourself. The judges called it ¿1. Tara Dakides 2. Jamie Macloed 3. Barrett Christy
In the afternoon I went to the tower at the end of the course. Jamo and Steve Ruff do their play by play from there. They wear headsets that are connected to the production van and receive additional instructions. It’s a quite involved process.
The Men’s Slopestyle Finals were fun to watch. The dudes were defiantly making more of the course¿which I thought was well laid out¿than the chicks had been. Jussi Oksanen was the hero of the day, taking a line no one else was. He would pass all the little jumps and rails and just bomb from one jump to the next, including a monstrous gap. It was the best run of three, but Kevin Jones dominated every run he took. He’d 270 to frontside boardslide rails, spin like a top and stomp everything like Old Man Smithers stomps a burning bag of pooh. Kevin won, no doubt about it. Not unlike Kevin, Todd Richards took full advantage of every jib, jump, rail, hip, and transition on each of his runs. Todd got second, no doubt about it that guy fully earned it. Completely unlike Kevin and Todd, Peter Line couldn’t get it going on his first two runs, but pulled it together for his last and landed clean in third. But you don’t have to take my word for it; you can just watch it for yourself tomorrow.
There were a lot of others, both female and male, who had moments of glory on the slopestyle course. Unfortunately for them, I’ll be working for ESPN at the Boarder-X tomorrow and need my all the beauty sleep I can get, other wise I would immortalized there feats on our internet site for all of time. But speaking of immortalized, Shaun Palmer did win the Skier-X today.