X Games 2013 Tignes – Louie Vito wins Men’s Halfpipe

Louie Vito generally looks so comfortable upside down.

Louie Vito won the closest of men’s halfpipe finals in Tignes tonight, snatching victory away from local hero Arthur Longo at the last minute, and by the narrowest of margins.

With Batman and the Boy Wonder (that’s Shaun White and Ayumu Hirano to you) out of the picture for this X Games, the contest was thrown wide open.

Vito, Scotty Lago and Iouri Podlatchikov were all still in play though, so we were pretty confident in predicting that the podium would involve at least two of the above.

Certainly even our wildest dreams didn’t include a Frenchman from Deux Alpes taking the lead with his first run and hold onto it ’til the last.

But then we hadn’t reckoned with Monsieur Longo. Fired up no doubt by the large home crowd who’d assembled to watch the blue-riband event, Arthur absolutely stormed through his first run, going absolutely massive.

Even our wildest dreams didn’t include a Frenchman from Deux Alpes taking the lead with his first run and hold onto it ’til the last.

His first hit was a front 10, at least 20 foot out, and it continued like that down the pipe. His last was an enormous back rodeo 7, preceded by a massive double cork. He was the first rider to actually land his run, but when the judges held up a 92, it didn’t feel in the least bit generous.

But while the crowd were obviously over the moon, there were still 7 of the world’s best halfpipe riders standing between their man and a place on the podium.

iPod dropped and stomped a clean run. Despite the amplitude not matching Arthur’s part of me thought it was all over. But when the judges called 82 – a full 10 points behind Arthur’s – it was clear that it was on. iPod would have to have something special up his sleeve to beat the Frenchman.

Arthur Longo. Hero of the day for ze Frenchies.

It turned out he did, and on his second run, he went for a cab 1440 on his fourth hit, a trick that has never been landed – at least in competition – before. Unfortunately for the half-Russian, half-Swiss, half-glamrock rider, he couldn’t hold onto it.

Scotty Lago meanwhile had slammed hard on his first run, catching the coping with first his board and then his back, and sitting down for a long while before riding straight down.

Manfully he stepped up to a second run, but despite landing his first hit (a stylish double-grabbed double-cork) he slashed his way down the rest of the pipe, clearly in pain.

Louie Vito, the other yank who we were expecting to do well, put down first a decent if not spectacular run, and then a hand in his second. So going into the third runs, the local hero Arthur still had a commanding lead. This was just as well because nerves had clearly got to him and his second and third runs, while big, were sketchy as.

iPod in practice.

While all this was going on, Japanese shredder Taku Hiraoka had been quietly working his magic, landing himself in third place after the second run with a 78. He’d been drafted in as a last-minute replacement for Peetu Piiroinen, who’d qualified ahead of him. So seeing him go so big was pretty awesome.

On his third run he improved still more, knocking iPod off the podium with three 10s, a 9, a 12 and a score of 86.

iPod clearly had a lot to do going into the third run. Out came the new special move, the cab 1440 again. Only this time, he stomped it! Rushing towards his final hit he launched an enormous double cork, but came down all wrong, catching the coping on his shins.

Iouri being Iouri, that didn’t stop him celebrating and he rode down to the bottom with a massive grin on his face. Celebrating as if he’d just won the thing, he hugged the ESPN presenter, and threw first his helmet and then his snowboard into the crowd.

As Arthur Longo put it diplomatically in the post-match press conference “It’s just err… how iPod is.”

A slightly extravagant reaction perhaps, given he’d just eaten shit, but iPod never knowingly under-claims. Or as Arthur put it diplomatically in the post-match press conference “it’s just err… how he is.”

Asked the same question, Vito chuckled and explained: “I was kinda just waiting to get on with my final run, I was wondering what was going on down there…”

And he might well have wondered cos iPod’s celebrations went on for about 10 minutes. But perhaps that helped calm Louie’s nerves because once he’d been ushered off stage right, and Louie dropped in, he absolutely slayed it.

Luke Mitrani unfortunately didn’t trouble the podium tonight, despite some big hits.

That was the run he’d meant to stomp second time round! And although it wasn’t as big as Arthurs, it was much more technical. In standard X Games style the judges spent ages ‘deliberating’ over who had won while ESPN ratcheted up the tension to fever pitch by shoving cameras in the riders’ faces.

Would the French flag wavers in the crowd have their day? Would Arthur’s 92 win out? Would we all be celebrating the first ever French snowboard X Games gold medallist?

No, in the end it turned out we wouldn’t.

But despite the fact that no-one cheered, Louie was a worthy winner. And Arthur, for his part, looked stoked to have finished second, especially as he was coming in as a rank outsider.

Taku took the third spot finishing off a fairy-tale night for the reserve rider, and meaning the final podium looked absolutely nothing like our predictions. But that’s surely a good thing right?

If snowboarding lost its capacity to surprise and underdogs never made podiums, the world would definitely be a more boring place.



1 Louie Vito R74.00 R53.33 R92.66 92.66
2 Arthur Longo R92.00 R20.00 R22.00 92.00
3 Taku Hiraoka R33.33 R78.00 R86.00 86.00
4 Iouri Podladtchikov R82.33 R26.66 R41.66 82.33
5 Luke Mitrani R16.66 R80.00 R35.00 80.00
6 Christian Haller R9.66 R43.33 R32.66 43.33
7 Benji Farrow R5.00 R5.00 R30.00 30.00
8 Scotty Lago R12.66 R8.00 12.66
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