X Games Real Ski Backcountry. For what it's worth, The Jaded Local called this months ago when he said Dropping Edits and Backcountry Booter would be added to the Olympics. With the X-Game-ifying of the Winter Olympics, let's call this the test event for South Korea in 2018.
Round 1: Sammy Carlson vs. Parker White
Out of the gates, it's clear Sammy Carlson wants this medal to rest next to his Winter X Slopestyle Gold at his place in Hood River, Oregon. Doubles, pillows, that blunt grab…it's been understated that Sammy C. is a fierce competitor. He might be the Kobe Bryant of freestyle skiing.
Moving to P-White, his collaboration with Freedle Coty and Taylor Brown (affiliated through Level 1, of course) is one that I was looking forward to the most. I'm bummed Sammy and Parker can't meet in later rounds. The P-White, Coty, Brown collab goes off the beaten path, which is exactly what this competition needs. While Parker's style is on point and shirts-off-540s are dope (and that triple backie!), I have to go with Sammy on this one.
Round 1 Vote: Sammy C.
Round 2: Dane Tudor vs Sean Pettit
Two former POWDER Awards winners—Best Male Performance (Pettit) and Breakthrough Performer (Tudor)—head-to-head? Yes, please. Based on the three edits I've watched thus far, it's clear I want to go skiing in whatever magical wonderland Dane Tudor filmed his part. An injury cut into Dane's filming time, but man, oh man, did that dude score some pow. That move from Salomon to Scott didn't hurt his style, either. Nice edit, Dane. Get well soon.
For someone whose brand of skiing wasn't suited for Winter X, Sean Pettit's personality is ready for that crowd. He's been a mainstay at the Aspen event for years, walking in to collect POWDER Awards and party with adoring female fans. As for his edit, holyfreakingcrap! That being said, he does have the benefit of a Red Bull budget that can afford those heli shots and a track by the Yardbirds. Regardless, that skiing could've been shot on a Motorola RZR, laid over a Macklemore track (can we please stop playing this guy's music?) and won.
Round 2 Vote: The Pettit-file
Round 3: Pep Fujas vs Chris Benchetler
The people planning this event are cruel. Don't you realize these guys are homies, ski pow under the Nimbus flag, and whatever the outcome of this round, you've put a wrench in the good times vibe crew? There's nothing that goes better with a morning coffee than a Nimbus, travel-based edit. Thanks, X Games. Way to think it through.
But on to the edits. Pep Fujas' switch skiing has always been on point. Also, those grabs. Kids, pay attention. This is how it's done. I had the luxury of seeing Pep session that jump from afar on a tour this winter. I called POWDER Senior Photographer Adam Clark to see if I could swing over and check it out. He was kind enough to say yes. Then I saw how far I'd have to skin to get there and pussied out. No regrets, right? I regret that decision. I'm an idiot.
Benchetler's edit: Yikes. That first air was huge. What follows is more of what we've come to know from Benchets—good style, nose butters, and grabbing those grabs. And let's take a moment and recognize the trend of big mountain skiers going for dub 10s. Cody Townsend threw one at the Swatch Skiers Cup (albeit an ugly one), but way to go guys. Welcome to the party.
This one is too hard to call. Also, I really can't stand these Stride Gum-Shaun White commercials. Hot pants used to be cool. Way to ruin a good thing, Flying Tomato.
Round 3 Vote: Eric Pollard – get well soon!
Round 4: Tanner Hall vs Wiley Miller
Welcome back to X Games, Tanne…wait, X Games already played up that storyline in Aspen. Well, whatever. I'm going to say it again. Welcome back to X Games, Tanner Hall. It's good to have Tanner in an event that suits the style of skiing it looks like he enjoys the most. Not to say he wasn't happy. The Inspired Crew is on a roll right now with Henrik Harlaut's win, the Inspired Demo Tour, new music, and…
Skulls. Skulls? Skulls! Holy crap.
That's also a new way to look at the phrase "tree line." And that was definitely a switch misty 9. Not that I've disliked the reggae thing, but this edit is refreshingly great for Tanner. I'm inspired, and not in a sarcastic way. If this was in a ski film, it’d be one of my top five Tanner segments of all time. And also, skulls. Way to go, T. It's good to have you back.
And last but certainly not least, Wiles Davis a.k.a. Wiley Miller. Wiley is one of the more underrated skiers in the game right now. His style is impeccable and no one is skiing the way he does in the backcountry. If this is a preview of things to come from Level 1 and Darren Rayner (formerly of Voleurz) then sign me up. As for Wiley's skiing, that's every way possible to touch, bonk, grab a pillow. Similar to Sammy and Parker's Round, I wish these two could've met later. Damn you again, X Games. At the time this article was written, Tanner was up in voting, but I'll say it now: Wiley is the dark horse to win this competition.
Round 4 Vote: Wiley Miller, but then I went on my iPhone and voted for Tanner. Tie.
And that wraps up the first round of voting for the inaugural Winter X Real Ski Backcountry edits. One thing is for certain: This event is 1,000 times more entertaining than snocross. Let's hope that the success of this event will parlay into a Real Street Ski event and more video contests in the future.