Basalt skier Yater-Wallace qualifies for superpipe finals |

Basalt skier Yater-Wallace qualifies for superpipe finals

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – Torin Yater-Wallace’s spot in Saturday afternoon’s Winter X ski superpipe finals is assured. The 16-year-old from Basalt likely was sweating it out at frigid Buttermilk for much of Friday night’s 16-rider, two-run qualifier, however.

Seventh after a mediocre opening run, Yater-Wallace was bumped to the eighth and final qualifying spot midway through the second round. Last year’s surprise silver medalist responded, upping his amplitude and his score – from 77.33 to 87.33 – to vault into third place.

Reno, Nev., product David Wise secured the top spot with a 92. Justin Dorey, of Vernon, British Columbia, wound up second. Simon Dumont, a fan favorite and last year’s bronze medalist, from Bethel, Maine, narrowly advanced after finishing eighth with an 81.33.

Two-time defending champion Kevin Rolland was feeling the pressure, too, after winding up 16th in the opening run. He scrubbed the landing on an attempted alley-oop flatspin 360 on the second hit.

The Frenchman, the last skier to drop, did not hold back in his second run. After successfully landing two 900s, a 720 and the same trick that had tripped him up earlier, Rolland stomped a double-corked 1260 off the final hit. He wound up fifth overall.

Like many in the field, Yater-Wallace played it safe during his first run down the icy superpipe. He nearly landed in the flat on one hit, which cost him the speed he needed to end with a flourish. Consequently, he found himself squarely on the bubble.

Kiwi Jossi Wells increased the pressure on the youngster, knocking Yater-Wallace into eighth in Run 2. France’s Xavier Bertoni, the 2009 gold medalist and one of a handful of riders who could’ve dropped Yater-Wallace even further, laid down a solid run but mustered a score of just 76.33.

Telluride’s Gus Kenworthy fell on his final hit, giving Yater-Wallace a moment to exhale.

Still, a daunting prospect emerged down the stretch: With only Rolland behind him, if Yater-Wallace failed to better his score on his final run, his fate would’ve been in Rolland’s hands. That position proved tenuous last year – with a gold medal on the line, Rolland knocked Yater-Wallace off the top of the podium with a final run that proved to be the most impressive of the night.

Yater-Wallace took care of business down the stretch Friday night.

Now, Winter X’s youngest male medal winner gets another shot at gold.

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