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Big exit for X Games

C.R. Johnson launches out of the superpipe as a spectator watches during Tuesday night's Ski Superpipe finals at the 2004 Winter X-Games. Aspen Times photo/Nick Saucier.
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The hugest things, it seems, come in the smallest packages.

Seventeen-year-old Simon Dumont of Bethel, Maine, a pint-sized guy in the big time X Games ski superpipe finals, boosted giraffe-size tricks in fluid succession to leapfrog from last place to the top of the podium at Buttermilk during the final event of Winter X Games VIII last night.

After falling in his first two runs of best-of-three format, Dumont finally managed to stay on his feet ” that is, when he wasn’t challenging light towers lining the pipe for air supremacy.



A product of Maine’s Sunday River who now rides for Team Aspen/Snowmass, Dumont’s masterpiece drove the frozen crowd into a frenzy ” for the sheer shock value of seeing a human so far above the deck, for one, so much higher than anyone else doubly ” even if it meant hometown hero Peter Olenick of Carbondale was bumped to third place.

Just how and what Dumont did, exactly, may have been lost on the larger audience, such as SportsCenter viewers watching live, for instance, but every witness on hand agreed on one thing.



“I can’t say anything but that Simon is a well-worthy winner,” Jon Olsson, the silver medalist, said in summation. “I just watched him and I’m like, ‘I wish I could go that big.'”

Olenick, 19, the local boy who made good Sunday with a silver medal performance in ski slopestyle, upped the ante of this high-flying game of poker with a smooth, stylish and clean effort on his final run down the pipe. When judges returned a score of 91, the first earthquake was felt at the base of the pipe as the crowd roared its approval.

But as the No. 8 qualifier in Tuesday afternoon’s preliminaries, seven riders remained at the top of the pipe with a chance to unseat Olenick. They all took their shots.

Three-time X Games slopestyle gold medalist Tanner Hall of Park City, Utah, also last year’s superpipe silver medalist, put together the first run to rival Olenick’s. Combining big air, technical tricks and well-stomped landings, Hall raised his arms in his now familiar champion’s pose after finishing. But the judges didn’t agree, pegging the run at 90, one point behind Olenick.

Olsson, of Are, Sweden, who won his second consecutive X Games bronze in the slopestyle on Sunday, then pieced together a monster run of his own. Capping it off with an alley-oop at the bottom of the pipe that must have exceeded 15 feet in amplitude, Olsson’s run ” the crowd knew it ” bested Olenick’s. The judges certified it as such: 91.33.

Then it was Dumont’s turn. Based on his earlier runs, even though he fell, and his qualifying runs, every competitor knew the Maine-iac had gold in him. Whether he could put it together without a bobble, however, remained to be seen.

Yesterday afternoon, after qualifying No. 2 with airs that reached some 22 feet out of the pipe, Dumont spoke with The Aspen Times.

“I was just chillin’, wasn’t really throwing down too much,” he said.

“But the finals is gonna be huge,” Dumont continued. “Probably the same amount of hits, just like huge. HUGE. Like over the light towers, hopefully.”

A die-hard New England Patriots fan, Dumont was asked if he drew any inspiration from Pats QB Tom Brady.

The high schooler replied: “Yeah, you know, I’m gonna hold it down just like he’s gonna.”

Predication? Perhaps.

Either way, the lesser-known New Englander backed it up.

Dumont’s first hit, and second and third and fourth, fifth and sixth for that matter, all appeared to surpass what his rivals were catching. When he landed his final hit, even though he cased it slightly on the deck, everyone at the base knew at once that the run, and the boy, was golden.

So when the judges returned a score of 93.66 to certify that suspicion, Dumont was swarmed by rivals like Olsson, Hall and Olenick with congratulations.

Said Olenick: “I knew he could do it if he could only do it. I’m so stoked for him.”

Said Olsson: “I’m super happy about being second to him, to that.”

Said Dumont: “It all came together. I felt a little nervous, and then I just said what the hell and just went for it and I ended up landing.”

[Tim Mutrie’s e-mail address is mutrie@aspentimes.com]


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