Both Agree: Sweetest Pipe Ever
Breckenridge, CO Dec. 3-5, 1999
Talent was overflowing all weekend, but the views in pipe practice left everyone aghast. From the mighty mites, 13-year-old Shaun White and 15-year-old Takaru Nakai boosting like the big boys, to the meister-stylist Xaver Hoffman, to local ripper Chauncey Tantan, huge things were getting thrown down all day under bluebird skies. Even though weak, early season legs were abundant, the 14-foot walls forced everyone up and outta sight!...baby!
The heats to weed down the 20 finalists for the men and the 10 for the women were themselves multi-day shows of consistency and perseverance. The judges should have won some money for having to cut so many good riders. The trench was not only deep, but fast and formidable and the few standouts were always apparent. Americans, Canadians and a bunch of German-speaking freaks were letting the solar winds boost them ever higher.
Kier Dillon got cut, but John Sommers made it to the fourth heat. Todd Richards made the semis, but not the finals. Tommy Czeschin stuck a mean back-to-back 7 and 9 for 3rd place and $4,000. Gian Simmen, who was riding like he had something to prove (I swear that kid is either pissed or the weight of an Olympic Gold pushes him to win) boned out everything, overhead. It was strong and second only to mix master Ross Powers. Okay...look at the picture...He went almost 15 feet out! Then did it again, then planted the inverted 9 and added a couple extra hits at the bottom for good measure.
Compared to Nicola, all the ladies were sporting early season legs in the pipe. Her hugeness is one thing, but her ability to show consistency is unparalleled. Cara-Beth Burnside pushed hard and mixed it up, she was riding super strong and spinning, and scored 39.0 on her first run. (Thost scored 48.8.) But Burnside sketched on her second run, while Nicola's was even bigger, busting a 50.8.
"We all had a great time here. The conditions were perfect. The pipe was so much fun and the weather was nice. So what else do you need for a perfect competition?" she asked. Those were the highest scores for women today. Catherine Nieves held on in this huge pipe for 3rd place, pushing out Minna Hesso of Finland who took 4th. Leslee Olson was as smooth as silk and took 6th. I'm sure when she's completely in the game again she'll be top-10 in ALL events. Mark my words!
This was easily one of the best pipes I've had the pleasure to witness. When country borders dissipate and competitors feed off the international energy under great conditions and blue skies, the stoke is contagious. I stoke, you stoke, we all stoke! Blessings also go out to Breckenridge and Vans for building such a great venue with such little snow. My all your halfpipes be this deep and steep.
Ride on, children.
Hans Prosl, sleeping on Phatty's floor at 10,578' for MountainZone.com
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