Dumont airs it out in superpipe
It’s all about amplitude in the X Games men’s skiing superpipe, and in the finals Tuesday night, nobody got higher than gold medalist Simon Dumont. Dumont, from Bethel, Maine, approached the 20-foot mark above the lip of the pipe on each of his three runs. He garnered the night’s top score, a 92.66, on his second run, and in the process became the first competitor to win consecutive golds in the event. “I had a little more technical difficulties than last year,” Dumont said, referring to his somewhat rough landings. “[But] after my first big score, all the pressure was off of me.” Dumont said the walls of the pipe were slightly shallower this year, which prompted him to make a move to longer skis to generate more speed. He made the switch from his normal 168-centimeter boards to 178s after practice runs Monday. He credits that adjustment, along with two unnatural 540s and an alley-oop 700, to his victory.
Tanner Hall, in second with a 90 after two runs, hinted that he’d go huge on his third and final run in order to pass Dumont. “I’m going to have to figure out something,” he said. But Hall came up short in air, instead focusing on a technical run fueled by crisp, flawless tricks. The judges awarded him a 91, and the silver. For the first time in five years, the Montana native left the X Games without a gold medal. “I’ve been a longtime competitor, and the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that this is a judged sport,” Hall said. “I’m not mad about it, that’s just the way it is. I’m just happy to be on the podium, and that I’m consistent.”But Hall admits that the judging criteria will have to change in the future, and air time shouldn’t necessarily be the end-all-be-all of the superpipe.
“It’s just the early stages of halfpipe,” he said. “In five or six years it’s going to be so crazy they’ll have to change that kind of judging.” Sweden’s Jon Olsson took home a bronze after delivering three consistent, albeit safe and nonrisky runs, and a score of 87. It’s his sixth bronze in the X Games (two in the superpipe, four in slopestyle) which is a record. When asked what it would take to surpass Dumont’s huge air, the Swede replied, “You need to be completely insane.” He added that at the ripe old age of 22, he’s a dinosaur in the superpipe.
“I guess when you’re 22, you’re old in this sport,” he said, joking that at some point in the future, he’ll get the best of Dumont. “One day, I’ll beat that little [expletive].” Local favorite Peter Olenick of Carbondale, who finished third in the pipe last year, had a tough night, finishing seventh with a score of 61.33.”I was skiing OK, the pipe’s just really icy,” Olenick said. “In my first run, I was trying to do a trick never done before [an alley-oop 900] and I just decked out a little bit.” Like Dumont, Olenick said the pipe was not in top condition. He was unable to elaborate due to a smothering mob of teenage girls chanting his name. Candide Thovex, the 2003 pipe champion, did not compete in the finals due to a right heel contusion.
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