Simon Dumont’s pipe prowess continues |

Simon Dumont’s pipe prowess continues

Adam Boffey
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Dan Marion gets inverted above the halfpipe at Breckenridge, Colo. on Sunday, during the inaugural North American Open. Marion, who resides in Summit County, finished second behind Simon Dumont. (Eric Drummond/Summit Daily)

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. ” Simon Dumont helped envision, produce and promote the first-ever North American Open, which concluded Sunday at Breckenridge.

The 21-year-old freeskiing icon also found time to claim victory in Sunday’s halfpipe contest with a score of 85.6 points.

“It feels good to win,” said Dumont, who worked closely with Jon Olsson, among others, to get the NAO off the ground. “I’m always here to win, but at the same time, it kind of bums we out to win my own event. … I want to give all these other guys a chance to show what they have, but I think everybody did. I’ve never seen so much talent in my life.”

Local skier Dan Marion took second with 79 points and East Coast high-schooler Matt Duhamel was third with 76.

“I haven’t been on the podium in a long, long time,” Marion said. “I kind of forgot what it feels like.”

Marion, who learned of his result about 20 minutes after the three-run competition ended, knew he had a shot at finishing in the top three, but so did several other skiers.

“I didn’t know (where I stood),” Marion said, “because I knew Peter (Olenick) and Colby (West) skied well, a lot of other kids skied fairly well and I skied OK. … My second run was definitely my best. The switch 7 was one of the best ones I’ve ever done – that might of caught the judges’ eyes, I don’t know.”

If Marion was pleasantly surprised by his placement on Sunday, Duhamel was downright shocked.

“I feel like I’m in a dream right now,” said Duhamel, a 16-year-old student at Carrabassett Valley Academy in Maine. “I was just hoping to finish in the top 10.”

Duhamel, like Marion, said he felt like he came through with one of the best runs of his career on Sunday.

The some 25 men and five women who competed in the pipe finals were forced to deal with snowy conditions, which added an extra wrinkle of difficulty to the contest.

The untimely powder resulted in an equal playing field for everyone, however, as the fifth-place finisher West pointed out.

“You just can’t get as much amplitude,” West said. “It’s not like people crash more or less, there’s just not as big of a wow factor.”

That’s not to say huge hucks were absent from Sunday’s proceedings.

Local rippers Taylor Felton (ninth) and JP Solberg (16th) were both recognized by judges for staying airborne longer than others. A free pair of Nike sneakers was the prize.

Solberg spoke to the health risks associated with flying high above a halfpipe.

“If you land in the transition perfectly, you can basically go as big as you want,” Solberg explained. “But if you’re an inch or two off, you could be done for the season.”

The weekend’s inclement weather didn’t prevent a sizable crowd of intrigued spectators from assembling for both the slopestyle and halfpipe finals.

The audience will be even bigger next year if Dumont gets his wish.

“The winners got $5,000,” Dumont said. “But our prize money is going to go up immensely next year. My goal is to out-do the X Games. I want a 50-grand purse, that’s never happened in skiing. … People come out here and they kill it – it’s hard to win an open event.”

Like most other NAO competitors, Dumont took the weekend’s snow in stride.

“The weather didn’t cooperate and we still had fun,” the Dillon homeowner said over the microphone after being named the halfpipe winner. “So imagine what will happen when we have some sun.”

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