Words & Photos by Ed
Back on Wednesday the mens skiers christened the Tignes halfpipe with an epic final in front of a crowd of thousands. They were going so big it was ridiculous, and word filtering back from the competitors was that this is the best pipe ever built in Europe. Expectations were therefore high that the snowboarders in yesterday’s women’s final and men’s qualifiers would be worth a watch!
Dusk was setting in as the women got underway, with newly crowned Olympic gold medalist Torah Bright the clear favourite. True to form she threw down a solid set of runs including those trademark inverts and a massive backside air midway through her run, but when the dust settled she was pipped to the post by relative unknown Katilyn Farrington from Idaho, USA (the same place Napolean Dynamite comes from). Farrington has competed in the X-Games for the past three years but this was her first gold medal – pipping Bright for difficulty with a cheeky backside 900.
In the men’s qualifiers - as in the slopestyle - some mighty big names fell by the wayside, including Olympians Greg Bretz, Arthur Longo, Antti Autti and Fredi Austbo. Competition was fierce, and though a certain Shaun White is not here in France the riding level was through the roof. Top spot went to Finland’s Markus Malin, closely followed by Iouri ‘iPod’ Podladtchikov and Christian Haller. Tonight’s gold medal showdown, with a packed crowd and a stunning floodlit pipe, promises to be very special indeed.
“The X-Games is such a huge event to action sports and to have it in France only enhances the culture of action sports on a whole," women’s winner Katilyn Farrington told the press conference afterwards. “It’s history in the making." I don’t know if I’d go so far as to put it alongside the Battle of the Somme or Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, but Tignes really is getting into the swing of things now. The late night parties and drunken shouts from the street – punctuated by those old fashioned French police sirens à la Bourne Supremacy - are a sure sign that the X-Games festive spirit is overflowing. Check out highlights of the action so far here.
Women’s Halfipipe – Final
1. Kaitlyn Farrington USA 97.00
2. Torah Bright AUS 95.00
3. Sophie Rodriguez 87.00
4. Mercedes Nicoll CAN 82.33
5. Ellery Hollingsworth USA 79.00
6. Kjersti Oestgaard Buaas NOR 78.66
Men’s Halfpipe - Qualifiers
1. Markus Malin FIN 92.330
2. Iouri Podladtchikov SUI 92.000
3. Christian Haller SUI 82.000
4. Louie Vito USA 79.000
5. JJ Thomas USA 77.330
6. Aluan Ricciardi FRA 68.330
7. Mathieu Crepel FRA 68.000
8. Luke Mitrani USA 68.000