X Files: Day 1

Superpipe prelims marked by pre-releasing bindings and one guy in shorts

Byron Wells during superpipe prelims tonight at X Games. Photo: T. Mutrie

Published: 10:33 p.m., January 26, 2011

For one youngster it was the “craziest most exciting moment of my life.” For another, it was but an opportunity to wear shorts, no socks and Air Jordans. Clearly, the least stoked individuals tonight during the X Games opener, for superpipe prelims, were the skiers who lost skis due to pre-releasing bindings.

At least five skiers lost skis during their runs—AJ Kemppainen did twice, both runs—meaning the field of 8 (from 16) advancing to the finals does not include some of the favorites: Mike Riddle and Jossi Wells are out. But 15-year-old Torin Yater-Wallace, Aspen’s latest prodigy, is in. (Full results below.)

There are some fearsome entourages in freeskiing, chief of among them, Torin Yater-Wallace’s. Photo: T. Mutrie

David Wise, the second place finisher, blamed binding-gate (Riddle, J. Wells, Bertoni and Dumont also lost skis) on the cold weather: Mid-teens, periodic gusts of two-stroke cold smoke and accents of brake dust with the strong chance of one guy in shorts. “Dude, it’s the cold,” says Wise. “A whole bunch of things don’t like to work when it’s cold, like my diesel truck. But who knows really. All these guys are tough to beat, and obviously the reigning champion [Kevin Rolland], but I’ve got a little something else. My theory is molding the tech tricks with style and huge amplitude, and that’s my formula for the finals.”

Yater-Wallace, an Aspen High freshman, posed for a few photos with Team Grom from the local Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club, where Yater-Wallace started at age seven. “How do I feel based on what I was hoping for? [Laughter] I had no expectations, I was just happy to make the X Games… let alone making finals, that would’ve been crazy for me. But now getting third? I can’t even comprehend what just happened. Definitely the craziest moment of my life so far.”

“Right 9, ally oop flat 5, right 12, left 12, right five, ally oop double flat 9. I might have one other thing, times a lot more, go bigger, better grabs. … I’ve gone for more than one double, but I’m not very comfortable with doing more than one. So hopefully I go big enough and get clean enough grabs to just have one double and do as well.”

“I thought everybody skied well. Obviously a lot of people had problems with their bindings, which sucks, I feel really bad for them. Mike Riddle, he’s such a great skier, so it sucks that he had that problem. I wish Jossi could’ve made it, he’s one of my favorite skiers. but I’m just so stoked I got third. I can’t even tell you,” Yater-Wallace continues. “Being in the finals, my greatest dream. I mean, I always wanted to even be in X Games, so this, and the moment I got the invitation, were like the craziest most exciting moment of my life so far.”

Colby West, slopestyler, New Hampshire native and five-time X Games vet, remarked on the fellow wearing the shorts and Air Jordans: “He’s gotta be from Mass.” Based on practice, West says Elias Ambuhl, Russ Henshaw, Sammy Carlson and Bobby Brown look good. “I didn’t see Bobby [Brown] go, but I know.”

Also, “The jumps are the best that I’ve ever had at X Games. They made ’em kickier. They were really flat before.”

Superpipe Prelims

Regular shorts weather here at X Games. Photo: T. Mutrie

1. Kevin Rolland, 87.00/95.00
2. David Wise, 92.66/81.33
3. Torin Yater-Wallace, 85.33/91.00
4. Justin Dorey, 89.00/68.66
5. Simon Dumont, 12.33/83.66
6. Thomas Krief, 19.66/83.00
7. Duncan Adams, 80.00/77.66
8. Xavier Bertoni, 77.33/43.66
Cut off
9. Byron Wells, 74.66/57.00
10. Taylor Seaton, 70.00/64.00
11. Matt Margetts, 64.66/38.66
12. Jossi Wells , 41.66/34.33
13. Peter Olenick, 12.66/25.33
14. AJ Kemppainen,14.00/14.00
15. Mike Riddle, 9.00/7.33
16. Tucker Perkins, 0.00/0.00

1. Devin Logan, 86.00/35.00
2.Roz Groenewoud, 81.33/84.66
3. Jen Hudak, 83.00/50.00
4. Anais Caradeux, 82.33/82.33
5. Brita Sigourney, 76.33/82.00
6. Sarah Burke, 79.00/79.00
7. Keltie Hansen, 69.66/78.00
8. Maddie Bowman, 73.66/40.00
9. Jess Cumming, 30.66/71.66
10. Mirjam Jaeger, 62.00/69.33
11. Virginie Faivre, 66.00/67.00

X Files: Games On
It’s almost go time: Olenick and Kenworthy talk pipe and slopestyle scenarios

Published: 4:33 p.m., January 26, 2011

X Games superpipe competitor Taylor Seaton and Josh Bishop during last night’s practice session. Photo: Dave Amirault/aspensnowmass.com

Winter X Games gets underway tonight with prelims in men’s and women’s superpipe. Following today’s final practice session, Powder.com caught up with pipe specialist and eight-time X Games competitor Peter Olenick, who, at 26 (almost 27), is the most veteran of pipe skiers in the field.

Jossi Wells. Photo: Dave Amirault/aspensnowmass.com

“The pipe’s in good shape. Some good weather here today. … In practice we’re seeing a couple people link doubles together—more than one double in run. But I know people have some crazy stuff in their heads planned for finals.”

Will the prelims be conservative?"Compared to how the finals will be, yes, but compared to how prelims have gone before, no. If you take it too conservative, you don't make it.”

Who looks good? “Simon Dumont, Justin Dorey, Mike Riddle. They’re doubling up on the doubles.”

How big? “15 to 20 feet. So on par with what we’re using to seeing.”

Nerves? "They're doing all right. It's probably the most stressful day of the year. But I'm doing pretty good. Had some good practices, so feeling all right.”

What's in your run? "Ahh… it's a surprise. And only because I don't quite know. It could be a few different things depending on what I'm feeling.”

Music? "I think they're gonna be playing Katy Perry Firework for me tonight.” [Commentary in the background.] "You wear girl jeans Jossi! How is Firework embarrassing?!”

Pre-game? "Just chilling, hanging out til it’s time, then it's go time. Two runs, best run counts, and 16 riders cut to eight for the finals. … Everybody tries to save their best tricks for X Games and all that fun stuff, so you definitely see more progression at here than anywhere else. So yeah, it'll definitely get crazy.”

Powder.com also caught up with X Games rookie Gus Kenworthy during training today for slopestyle.

“Tomorrow morning is qualifications and Saturday is the finals. So people have been sessioning the course all morning.”

"The course is really awesome. The first day we skied it, yesterday, I was not completely stoked on it, to be honest. Some of the jumps were flat… But they had an athlete meeting last night and took everything in consideration that we said and made it better. Now, I'd say it’s probably the best slopestyle course I've ever skied.”

"The jumps were flat, so they took nine inches of snow out of the take offs, and bellied ’em out a bit to gave ’em more kick. They also angled out the rails a bit so you can link it all together better and keep your speed up.”

"Everyone's training hard. It's hard to watch everything, but you can see bits of people’s runs when you’re going back up on the snowmobiles. But Bobby Brown, coming off the win at Killington, he's got an insane run going. And I'd say Elias Ambuhl, Sammy Carlson, Russ Henshaw—they’re all putting down doubles on both sides, so I’d say that gives them the upper hand.”