Hall outduels Dumont in pipe classic
Summit Daily staff writer
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” One stands 5-foot-7 and weighs 150 pounds. The other goes about 5-9, a buck-40. When Simon Dumont and Tanner Hall get together for their annual Winter X Games duel in the halfpipe, however, they create enough energy to light up the Roaring Fork Valley.
Hall won the latest installment Friday night at Buttermilk, edging Dumont by a single point, 95-94, to defend his title of a year ago in a can-you-top-this thriller nobody will soon forget.
Not only did the 23-year-old Montana native tie Dumont, 20, at two Winter X pipe golds apiece – making next year’s event a don’t-miss rubber match – but he also tied Shaun White and Shaun Palmer at six career gold medals apiece, a Winter X record White will have a chance to break in today’s slopestyle finals.
Friday’s final results weren’t decided until Dumont’s score from his third and final run was announced to the baited breath of thousands. The “94” flashed on the scoreboard, bringing as many boos as cheers, a testament to the level of skiing these two athletes bring to the pipe every time they drop in.
Afterward, both did their best to downplay any talk of a rivalry beyond that which shows up on the scoreboard.
“It’s all friendship, you know,” Hall said. “The TVs like to hype up the rivalry a lot more than we do, but you know what they say about TV: You gotta give the people what they want. And obviously a little rivalry is what people like to see in America. But me and him are all good friends. It is true every contest me and him are kinda like biting at each other’s heels, so it’s just good, I feed off his energy and he feeds off of mine. It all works out in the end.”
Perhaps nothing qualified Dumont and Hall’s untouchable performance better than Peter Olenick being relegated to bronze. The Carbondale native twice landed his patented – and recently invented – Whiskey Flip, a double backflip with a twist, then wrapped up his run with a 1080 at the bottom of the pipe. The runs sent his hometown rooters into a frenzy below, but his third-run score of 90 points was only good enough for third.
“I feel like the trick got rewarded enough and the rest of my run was good, I just messed up the landing,” Olenick said. “That’s a hard thing for the judges, because Simon and Tanner had perfect runs so for them to put me ahead of them with a backseat landing and a hand drag was pretty hard. I’m stoked how I did.”
Hall’s highest scoring run began with a switch 1080 – the first one he’d ever landed in competition – then he ended it with a standard 1080 at the bottom. Dumont, meanwhile, set mouths agape with a 1260 that was as smooth as it was massive.
“Thing is, if you watch a lot of skiing, halfpipe skiing’s changing and a lotta people do the same runs,” Hall explained. “And it’s time now when people have to switch it up. You can’t do the same run year after year and expect to do good.”
That goes for next year, too, when the rubber match arrives.
“He’s got two, I’ve got two,” Dumont said. “It’s a little drama for next year; we’ll see who gets three first.”
Andreas Hatveit of tiny Sudndalen, Norway, finished fourth with an 84.33-point run that might’ve been good enough to compete for the win on a different evening. Frenchman Candide Thovex rounded out the top five with 82.33 points.
Nate Peterson contributed to this story. For complete Winter X Games 11 coverage, go to http://www.aspentimes.com/x.
Let’s make some skiing predictions. I made my X Games snowboarding predictions a day earlier and remain only mildly lukewarm in terms of confidence, but maybe I’ll feel better about the skiers.