X Files: A couple Maine-iacs
Simon Dumont is 18 years old, and these are his fourth Winter X Games.Last year at Buttermilk, you might recall, he was the little gymnast-type dude pulling huge 20-foot-plus airs out of the superpipe. He’s not a snowboarder; this skier goes way bigger than them.He’s the defending men’s ski superpipe champion, but he nearly recorded a “did not finish” last year. All it took – and all everybody knew it was going to take – was one run by Dumont that didn’t end up in a wrenching crash.Yesterday, the native of Bethel, Maine, a card-carrying citizen of Red Sox Nation and Patriots fan, predicted more of the same at Winter X Nine this weekend.”Obviously, I’m gonna try to go just as big,” he said. “I’m going for it all so I’m gonna either fall or, hopefully, take it.”Curiously, though, Dumont says he’s more interested in the ski slopestyle contest this year.”I really haven’t trained [pipe] at all,” he said. “I’ve just been shooting in backcountry, Utah; this is probably one of the first halfpipes I’ll ski all year. And I’ll figure it out when I get in there.””In slopestyle, I haven’t really shown myself, so of all the things I’m most excited about slopestyle.”And New England’s sporting dominance?”You know, what can I say? New England’s pretty much representing, so hopefully I can hold it down, too.”Top gunSeth Wescott is another Maine-iac – instead of the Sunday River neighborhood, though, Wescott is from Sugarloaf USA.Wescott, 28, has been to eight of nine Winter X Games, and he’s made the boardercross finals for the last seven years. Last year’s runner up, he’s been on the podium in Aspen every year since the X Games arrived here in 2002.The No. 1 qualifier yesterday, Wescott is – and always is – the man to beat.But he’s got other things on his mind beyond today’s elimination rounds and finals.You might have heard that boardercross will make its Winter Olympic debut next season in Italy.”But this year doesn’t matter so much for U.S. Olympic team qualifying,” he said. “All the selection is going to happen early next season. So this is just another year to go out there and prove that you’re riding strong.””Last week in Whistler I won the World Championship and for me, it’s kind of like saying to the U.S. Team, ‘Hey, I want my spot there and I want to be going for medals in Torino.”And today’s boardercross?”The course is really simple, super straight-forward. Really big features, but I dig that. It’s gonna be a lot of air time, so it’s all about how compact you can stay, and just holding it together in the air.”Riders to watch?”Xavier de la Rue, Uelie Kestenholz, Marco Huser and myself. Xavier’s hungry and he didn’t go to the World Championships specifically so he could rest up for this – the only event he’s never won and he’s been world champion like five times now. But I feel the strongest I’ve ever felt right now and I’m feeling super positive after the win last week. I’m looking forward to it.”Tim Mutrie’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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