Out with the old, in with the new | AspenTimes.com

Out with the old, in with the new

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

Joe Eddy didn’t like his chances. He failed to best his first-run score, and now all he could do was sit and watch as Keir Dillon dropped into the Buttermilk superpipe for his final run.

In all his years of competing, Eddy, 21, had never beaten Dillon ” a former bronze medalist in halfpipe at the Winter X Games and the U.S. Open, and undoubtedly the biggest name on the athlete list at this year’s Aspen/Snowmass Open.

But on this day, Dillon ” in just his ninth day on snow this winter ” couldn’t come through in the clutch. His competitive instincts told him he needed to do something big to impress the judges, so he attempted a 1080 on the final hit of his run.

Fortunately for Eddy, Dillon didn’t land cleanly after failing to complete three full rotations.

“It was a real nail-biter,” said Eddy, who edged Dillon by one point ” 92.5 to 91.5 ” to earn the win. “I see [Keir] at contests all the time, but I’ve never beat him before, so it’s kind of crazy. I’m pretty happy with it.”

“I haven’t landed one of those in a year, and I didn’t have any speed,” said Dillon, who is coming back from an offseason shoulder surgery and a sprained ankle. “I knew it wasn’t going to come around, but what are you going to do?”

In a final that saw young up-and-comers battle against some notable veterans, 18-year-old Chris Waker finished third, just ahead of 29-year-old Luke Wynen ” the winner of last year’s pipe final.

Waker, who attends the Stratton Mountain School in Vermont, grew up idolizing Dillon, and said it was an honor to finish on the podium next to him Saturday. To go with his $750 third-place check, Waker also won $1,000 for the best trick of the day.

“It feels amazing because Keir is on the global Burton team and Joe Eddy has been around killing it so much,” Waker said. “I haven’t stomped a pipe run in so long. I’ve been on the road for three weeks competing, and it feels so good to finally stomp a run.”

Waker linked together 540s and 900s in his final run to move ahead of Wynen, who just made the cut for the final.

Dillon rode cleanly during both of his runs, and wowed the crowd at the bottom with his textbook McTwists, but admitted he still has a long way to go before he’s back to his old self. He was invited to the Winter X Games this year, but failed to advance to the pipe final with so little time on snow.

He stayed in town for a photo shoot after the Winter X Games, and decided to enter the Open at Wynen’s urging.

“I’m just pleased to land a run,” he said. “I’m just trying to get back on my feet. Eddy threw down a sick run, which made me have the confidence to try and step it up. It didn’t come together.

“Each day, it’s just progress. When you take that much time off, it takes a while to get back in gear. The level of snowboarding these days is fierce, and it’s good to be on my board again and, from day to day, just trying to get better.”

Park City, Utah’s Drew Brighton finished fifth in the final and Basalt High School senior local Ben Logan took eighth in his first Open appearance.

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