So here’s your final results:
1st Louie Vito
2nd Arthur Longo
3rd Taku Hiraoka
Arthur manages to crack a grin when he sees the score. To be honest He’s probably genuinely stoked with second, cos he was definitely a rank outsider coming into this contest. But that was sooo close! He must be at least a little bit gutted, and the crowd, who didn’t cheer at all at the announcement, are definitely gutted. Vito, for his part, looks over the moon. His career has all to often seen him finishing in the silver or bronze position to Shaun White, iPod or more recently Ayumu Hirano. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride, that sort of thing. But tonight, the tiny dancer stepped up and made it happen. And what a contest to win! That definitely didn’t go according to the script, and it was a hell of a lot better for it.
Yep, we’re still waiting. Both men have cameras in their faces, to gauge their reactions. Both, in fairness are smiling. But the tension is unbearable… and finally the judges call it. It’s Louie Vito. With a 92.66, just .66 ahead of Arthur.
The judges are taking an inordinately long time to decide on this score. I guess it’s pay per view TV, racking up a little tension never hurts the ratings. But surely that last one from Vito beats Arthur’s? It wasn’t as big, but way more tech…?
Lago’s sitting this one out, so Louie Vito is the last man who could piss on the crowd’s proverbial frites. He drops in and this time, he nails his run. Absolutely nails it. Everything except for possibly the last hit is super clean. Doubles galore. And it’s looking good… or bad if you’re French.
He’s smiling though, his helmet is skew and his goggles got knocked sideways by the impact but he’s grinning as broadly as if he’d just won. He proceeds to throw his board around, first into the pipe, and then into the crowd! Isn’t there some health and safety law against that? Oh no wait, we’re in France. Still, bit of an odd reaction. He’s in third…
Here comes iPod to spoil ze Froggies fun though. He’s gonna nail that new trick this time. He winds up and boom! You can see it clearly this time – it’s that same double McTwist 1260 that only him and Shaun White can do, but he goes 14. Holy shit! Only thing is, he’s so stoked he screws up his final hit, a relatively simple (for him at least) cab double. He catches the coping right in the shins. Ooof!
Mitrani drops… and stacks it. Hitch drops, and also stacks it. This is looking better and better for Arthur.
Here comes Arthur once again. I don’t wanna jinx the lad, but a podium place (at least) is looking more and more probable. The crowd certainly think so – someone’s got a French flag and is waving it about. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were to break into a rousing chorus of La Marseillaise in a second. “Allons l’enfants de la patriiiiieee-yeh” Unfortunately, l’enfant de la patrie looks nervous and despite going big, can’t hold onto his run. No improvement, but ze Frenchman is still in first!
Benji Farrow’s up next, and manages to make it past his first hit this time. Yep, when he lands it, that double crippler is a banger. Unfortunately, his luck only holds out as far as the fourth one, which he stacks in a cloud of spindrift. Pas de medaille pour M. Farrow aujourd hui. But no worries, he’s young, he’ll be back.
Taku is up for the third and final time, and he means business. His run consists of a 9, three 10s (yep 3!) and a 12. Boom. But… none of them are upside-downey or double-corkey in any way, and the judges give him an 86. Fair enough, he looks pretty stoked – that’s 2nd place at the minute.
There’s some time between runs, so the cameramen treat us to several lingering close ups of a Jeep sitting somewhere next to the pipe on the snow. That’s nice – are they sponsoring this event or something? Honestly, I hadn’t noticed.
Louie Vito drops in last again, and steps it up a gear. The double crippler is still his first trick, but he goes for a double on his second. Unfortunately he’s off balance and drags his back hand on the landing and while he manages not to lose all his speed, the judges will count that against him. No change to our top three then, and Arthur is still in the lead!
Scotty Lago is up, apparently with Johnny Cash on the headphones “I hurt myself today, to see if I still feel…” Turns out he can, cos after stomping his first hit, a double-grabbed double cork, the rest of his run is just slashes. He’s either doing his best impression of a ski school snaking the pipe, or he’s in a bit of pain.
iPod’s dropping in, and he must be thinking “I’ve landed a banger run and it wasn’t enough. What now?” Well, it appears he’s still got something up his sleeve – he goes for what I think was a 1440 on the frontside wall. Hard to tell cos he misses the grab and only gets it round 1260, landing heavily on the tail and putting both hands down. But wow, that’s a new one, we’re looking forward to watching him try that again.
The younger Mitrani brother drops in and swaps his Japan for an Indy grab on the first hit. It seems to set him up better for the rest of the run, which he stomps cleanly – though I reckon he’s lucky to get his first double cork around given how long and low his trajectory was. Anyway, he’s chuffed and his 80.00 is enough to snatch third from Hiraoka.
“Arthur, Arthur, Arthur” – yep, that’s the sound of a couple of thousand excited Frenchmen and women. Their boy’s dropping and his first hit is… huge, again! Massive 1080. He appears determined to do his first run but bigger and better. Unfortunately he takes off wrong on his third hit, and flails for a couple of seconds (yep, it was that big) before arse-checking the landing.
Benji Farrow again attempts the double crippler and again stacks it. Bad luck mate, but don’t worry, you’ve still got a third run.
Second runs starting now. Taku Hiraoka, who we’ve learned is a last minute replacement for Peetu Piiroinen tonight (Peetu must be ill or injured?) gets things off to a good start and continues in even better style. What is it about Japanese riders and going massive? His 78 will put him in third place. Boom!
Yep, it appears they will. Louie gets an 74, which seems a little harsh to be honest, when put next to Longo’s 92. But it wasn’t as big as Arthur’s run. Certainly no-one here’s complaining anyway. Allez Arthur!
Last – but not least – to drop is Louie Vito. Yesterday’s top qualifier will be looking to win here. His run is a statement of intent, opening with a big double crippler, into a backside rodeo 7. He throws in back-to-back doubles and finishes with a slightly whirly-bird style front nine. Will the judges mark him down for that?
It’s Scotty Lago’s turn. He’s surely got to be looking to podium at least. But the New Hampshire native somehow scrubs his speed before he starts and doesn’t get anything like the height we’re used to seeing on his first hit. The second hit goes even worse for him as he catches his board – and then his back – squarely on the coping. Ouch! That’s gotta hurt. He stays down for a bit, but he’s alright.
Ooooh controversy. The judges don’t like iPod’s run. We’d been sure that would put him in the lead but they give him a mere 82.something, a cool 10 points behind Arthur. A whisper of surprise runs round the media centre. Are these judges local perhaps?
The first of our pre-match predictions – and probably the favourite tonight – is dropping. Iouri “I own a Porsche and I don’t care who knows it” Podlatchikov. He’s sick, he’s slick and he stomps the shit out of it, finishing with his trademark back-to-back double corks and… yep, there’s the trademark iPod claim.
Christian ‘Hitch’ Haller, owner of one of the best methods ever seen in the pipe, goes for it. But like everyone but Monsieur Longo before him, he stacks, arse checking and riding the straight down the rest of the pipe.
Luke Mitrani drops in but after two great hits, including a massive straight air Japan to open things up, he hucks a double cork attempt. Honestly dude, there was no way that one was coming round. He’s down. Not that we’re keeping score, but so far it’s Europe 1 – USA 0.
Will the judges love it as much as the home crowd… yes! A 92 and it looks like the boy from Deux Alpes is in serious contention for a podium spot. Result for the Frenchies!
Local hero Arthur Longo drops and…. smashes it! Big front 10 (I think?) first hit, finishing off with a steezy frontside double cork and a smooth backside rodeo tail down at the bottom. First run landed clean and the crowd are loving it.
Benji Farrow is next into the jaws of the U-ditch. Unfortunately it chews him up and spits him unceremoniously out onto the flat bottom after he gets off balance on his first hit, a big double crippler attempt.
And they’re off! Taku Hiraoka from Japan is the first to drop and goes absolutely huuuuuge on his first hit. Lad. Unfortunately he can’t hold onto his last hit, a big ol’ double cork. That one won’t score highly.
It’s really anyone’s to win but if we had to go with a prediction we reckon that after a sketchy first run in yesterday’s elimination stages, Iouri Podladtchikov will pull something special out of the bag tonight with Louie Vito and Scotty Lago rounding out the podium. Vito could easily top I-Pod though with his incredibly technical, double corked run, if he can maintain his amplitude all the way down the pipe.
THE START LIST
1. Benji Farrow
2. Peetu Piiroinen
3. Arthur Longo
4. Luke Mitrani
5. Christian Haller
6. Iouri Podladtchikov
7. Scotty Lago
8. Louie Vito
Unlike yesterday’s all-American ladies final, there’ll be a healthy mix of flags flying in the hands of supporters. The locals will undoubtedly be vouching for their fellow frog-devouring countryman Arthur Longo while the ‘Teen-yay’ loving Yanks have yesterday’s first and second place finishers Louie Vito and Scotty Lago as well as Luke Mitrani and Benji Farrow to cheer on.
Realistically, and barring no major upsets, we’re expecting a showdown between yesterday’s top three finishers Vito, Lago and Iouri Podladtchikov. Iouri is coming hot off the heels of a win at the Arctic challenge and supposedly has a new frontside 1440 double cork variation that he has been working on. Whether we see it tonight is another matter altogether.
We’re self-confessed fans of Scotty Lago who has been putting epic truckdriver and rocket air grabs into his spins. Be sure to look out for those beauties in his runs. Another trick to watch out for are Christian ‘Hitch’ Haller’s sexual methods. They’re a thing of beauty we tell you…
Good evening ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls and welcome to Tignes where we’re gearing up for an exciting men’s halfpipe final.
The top 8 riders from yesterdays elimination stages will be waxing their long sticks (keep those thoughts clean people) and getting warmed up for what will ultimately be a contest that anyone could clench. It all kicks off at 6.30pm (5.30 UK time) and we’ll be blogging the action run-by-run, minute-by-minute, as and when the riders drop.
If, for some reason, you’re unable to get onto the livestream, you’ll have a full record of what went down right here. We’d love for you to join the discussion and add your comments below – be it expressing your undying love for Louie Vito, correcting us on tricks (60% of the time we get it right every time) or being far funnier than we’ll ever be.
Drop an inspired comment on Twitter, tag it with #XGamesNow and we’ll incorporate into into the blog as well.