Fisher outduels White for superpipe gold
January 29, 2007
ASPEN ” Steve Fisher accomplished something few people have been able to do lately. Chris Burandt pulled off something no one had done before.
Fisher held off defending and Olympic champion Shaun White to win his second gold medal in snowboard superpipe, and Burandt launched an incredible 110-foot backflip on a snowmobile to take gold Sunday night at the Winter X Games at Buttermilk.
White tied Shaun Palmer’s record of six gold medals by winning the superpipe and slopestyle at Winter X last year, then went on to take Olympic gold at the Turin Games, setting off a media frenzy ” the Tonight Show, Letterman, Conan ” of rock star proportions.
But after all the appearances, the travel, the attention, White didn’t have that same touch at this year’s Winter X, taking bronze in slopestyle and silver in superpipe.
Fisher won superpipe in 2004, but didn’t get close again, finishing 20th in 2005 and 13th last year after just missing a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team. The 24-year-old won an event in his hometown of Breckenridge in December and rode with confidence throughout the Winter X Games.
Fisher qualified second behind White and hit every trick on a smooth first run that earned him 92 points _ a score no one else could match.
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White landed consecutive 1080s during the second of three runs, but got caught on the lip while landing a 540 and got 91 points. He had another chance with the final run of the night, but landed low on a 540 and lost speed for his next trick, giving Fisher the gold.
Burandt is one of the best all-around riders in the world, yet had never done a a backflip ” he crashed in a back country attempt two years ago ” before arriving at Buttermilk Mountain two weeks ago and needed about 20 attempts before getting up the nerve to get inverted on a 500-pound machine.
He clearly got past those jitters.
After watching Heath Frisby put together a near-flawless run ” the riders do as many tricks as they can in 75 seconds ” in the semifinals, Burandt knew he’d have to do something special. He did, launching a backflip over the 110-foot final jump to beat Frisby.
Alexsander Nordgaard, who beat Daniel Bodin in the semis, matched Burandt’s big flip in the finals for 93.66, but Burandt had a cleaner run to go with another backflip and beat Norwegian by three points.
“Noooooo, I wasn’t planning on doing it,” Burandt said. “I wasn’t going to do it on the first run until this guy (Frisby) said something. That’s the thing, you’ve got to step up when the time arises. I felt confident that I could do it and I went after it, and I did it.”
In other events, Norwegian Andreas Wiig won his second gold of the games in snowboard best trick showdown, retired U.S. Ski Team member Casey Puckett and Ophelie David won gold in skier X, and Candide Thovex won men’s skier slopestyle.
Wiig wasn’t sure if he’d be able to compete this weekend after a wipeout in practice left him with a concussion and a bruised heel, making the decision to give it a go in slopestyle just before the competition on Saturday. He ended up landing a 1080 at the end of his first run, earning him 89.66 points and a gold that ended Shaun White’s four-year run as slopestyle champion.
Wiig, the top seed in the best trick showdown based on his gold in slopestyle, started off by beating Hampus Mosesson with an 85 in the quarterfinals, then bumped off Danny Davis with the same score in the semis. Rice, who beat Chas Guldemond and Antti Autti, fell on his first attempt of the two-run finals and Wiig followed with frontside 1080 ” the same trick he crashed on practice ” for 90 points.
That left Rice with one chance to beat Wiig, but he didn’t come close to completing his 1080 and landed on his back, allowing Wiig to take a victory run.
“It’s about being clean and doing stuff you know how to do,” Wiig said. “Events like these you’re learning stuff. It’s two runs and definitely worth it to make a safe run and go for it on the second one.”
Puckett has been competing in skier X ” a sport that’s on the docket for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics ” at the past four Winter X Games, winning the title in 2004 and reaching the finals each of the past three years. The four-time Olympian got off to a strong start and held off former World Cup racer Jake Fiala, squeezing him off near the finish and accidentally sending him into the safety nets.
“The course is sort of an Autobahn highway,” Puckett said. “It does not leave any places to make a mistake. If you land a jump a little too short or too long, you end up losing your skis.”
Daron Rahlves, who retired from the U.S. Ski Team last year after winning 12 World Cup races, entered the finals with the best qualifying time, but got bumped at the start of the rough-and-tumble event and crashed to finish sixth.
David won her first Winter X gold in the women’s skier X race and was followed by Valentine Scuotto and Meryll Boulangeat, giving France a sweep of the podium.
Thovex, a Frenchman, won his third gold ” with big air in 2000 and skier slopestyle in 2003 ” by following a crash on his first run with a spectacular second that earned him 95 points.
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