Simon says, go big
ASPEN ” Nobody goes bigger than Simon Dumont.
For the second-straight year, Dumont, from Bethel, Maine, boosted 20 feet out of the pipe to win gold at Winter X Games Nine in Aspen.
And, like last year, the huge air came on his first hit. Unlike last year, however, the spring-loaded freeskier posted his score, a 92.66, on his second run and watched competitor after competitor falter or, at least, fail to come close to Dumont’s amplitude.
He garnered the night’s top score on his second run, and in the process became the first competitor to win consecutive ski superpipe golds.
“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.”
Montana’s Tanner Hall placed second and Sweden’s Jon Olsson picked up the sixth bronze medal of his X Games career (two in the superpipe, four in slopestyle) which is a record.
“I guess when you’re 22, you’re old in this sport,” Olsson said, joking that at some point in the future, he’ll get the best of Dumont. “One day, I’ll beat that little (expletive).”
Strategy played a part in Dumont’s performance. With slightly smaller pipe walls this year, Dumont switched from 168-centimeter skis to 178s after noticing during Monday’s practice that he couldn’t generate enough speed to match 2004’s championship run.
He credits that adjustment, along with two unnatural 540s and an alley-oop 700, for his victory.
Hall, in second with a 90 after two runs, hinted that he needed to go huge on his third and final run to pass Dumont. Hall qualified first on Tuesday afternoon, however, and Dumont barely qualified in ninth.
“I’m going to have to figure out something,” said Hall, who also picked up silver in the slopestyle. This was the first time in four years Hall has left the X Games without a gold medal.
On Hall’s third run, he focused on a technical run fueled by crisp, flawless tricks ” but the judges didn’t see him as an equal to Dumont. The judges awarded him a 91.
“I’ve been a long-time 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.”
Olsson posted an 87 with smooth, technical tricks, and hinted that coming up bronze was starting to get frustrating. When asked what it would take to surpass Dumont’s huge air, the Swede replied, “You need to be completely insane.”
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.
Candide Thovex, the 2003 pipe champion, did not compete in the finals due to a right heel contusion he suffered in qualifying.
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