The guys competing in SuperPipe dropped into Buttermilk's massive pipe this morning, marking the official start of the Winter X Games. "X Games is definitely the most fun and the most exciting event of the year," says reigning SuperPipe champion David Wise. "The [SuperPipe] contest is going to be pretty heated and I'm just excited to get into it."
It's all up for grabs in men's SuperPipe. Headlining the roster of athletes is 2012 winner Wise. But young talents like Torin Yater-Wallace, Noah Bowman, and Aaron Blunck are contenders as well.
"Unfortunately, we lost Justin Dorey to an injury, and I think he was my biggest competition out here," says Wise. "[Dorey] has been pushing me lately, but there are some young up and comers I'm looking for, too. You have to watch out for Torin. That kid is always going to ski well in finals, he's a contest rider for sure. And then Aaron Blunck is coming up through the ranks. He got a last minute invite [to X Games Aspen], and I'm excited to watch him ride because I've ridden with him for a long time."
The Buttermilk crew has been cutting the SuperPipe four times a day to make sure it's prime, and the athletes say it's pristine.
"You can go into the X Games with the trust that everything is going to be perfect," says Wise. "The SuperPipe is so perfectly cut, and that's why people go bigger at the X Games than they do anywhere else. Because you can land so high and so consistently that you can carry so much speed, so by the time you hit your last hit it really should be the biggest hit of your run."
The men and women will be practicing on the adjacent Slopestyle course while Wise is battling it out in the SuperPipe today with a chance to move on to the finals. Just like the resounding positives we keep hearing about the conditions in the SuperPipe, the Slopestyle course has athletes stoked.
"This is the best slopestyle course I've ever skied, for sure," says Bobby Brown. "That rail guard plaza up top is dialed in and the jumps are perfectly lined up, too. [The jumps] are super close together and technical, but at the same time really smooth and floaty. That last one is almost as big as the Big Air jump."
The usual Slopestyle suspects are on-site. Whenever Tom Wallisch is on-hand you have to take notice. Wallisch—defending Winter X Games Slopestyle champion and three-peat Powder Video Awards Reader Poll winner—is riding a ton of momentum heading into Aspen, despite nursing a knee injury. Teenager Nick Goepper is as technical as anyone, and, according to Bobby Brown, "There are all sorts of kids from Canada that are super good on the rails. Alex Bellemare is one to look for because he's so smooth and has all the rail tricks, he's good on the jumps as well."
On the women's side, Kaya Turski, who has won gold in Slopestyle at the last six X Games, agrees with Brown about the Slopestyle course. "I think it's really flowing. It's a really tight course but everybody I've talked to is having a lot of fun on it."
There's a mix of established veterans and eager newbies that will be battling Turski for the top spot in Women's Slopestyle.
"It's awesome to see the women's ski side really blowing up," says Turski. "I think that with the Olympic push there has been a lot of serious training going on. I'm definitely keeping my eye on a couple of veterans in the sport—Anna Segal from Australia and Ashley Battersby. There are some new up-and comers, too, like my teammate from Team Canada Dara Howell."
Take note of Emilia Wint and Yuki Tsubota. The young park skiers will turn heads with their rail skills and big-time arsenal of tricks off the jumps. The three newcomers will be pushing Turski, Segal, and the "old guard."
When it comes to the Women's SuperPipe, Roz Groenewoud is coming off a dominating 2012 season in the halfpipe and is looking to repeat as gold medalist.
Stay tuned to Powder.com throughout X Games for daily coverage. And check back later today for a guide on how to do Aspen properly during X Games.
Skiing Event Schedule
Thursday, January 24
10:30 AM – 12 PM
Skiing SuperPipe Men’s Elimination (at the SuperPipe)
Friday, January 25
1 PM – 2:30 PM
Skiing Slopestyle Men’s Elimination (at the Slopestyle Course)
6:30 PM – 7:45 PM
Skiing SuperPupe Women's Final (at the SuperPipe)
8:45 PM – 10 PM
Skiing SuperPipe Men’s Final (at the SuperPipe)
Saturday, January 26
7 PM – 9 PM
Skiing Big Air Round One & Final (at the Big Air Booter)
Sunday, January 27
12 PM – 1:15 PM
Skiing Slopestyle Men's Final (at the Slopestyle Course)
1: 30 PM – 2:45 PM
Skiing Slopestyle Women's Final (at the Slopestyle Course)