By: Nick Lipton – Revved up chicks enjoying good times, that was the scene at the Wendy's Invitational Female Superpipe Prelim. Rather than act serious or competitive the girls laughed, danced and ripped the Snowbasin pipe. Eventually the party had to end, and when it did Elena Hight wore the Prelims Queen's crown. Elena wasn't simply the day's winner though, she was the outlier, posting scores that should have her competition shaking in their boots. For those of you wondering, Elena's two runs, full of back to back 360s, 540s and even a 900, earned not just the top score of the day, but the second best as well. In short, expect a confident Elena come Saturday's Final.
The Prelim shoved nine ladies into the lion den for a blitzkrieg of spins, flips and brutal slams. Of this nine only five could advance to Saturday's Final. With Elena taking one of these coveted spots the remaining four began to shine bright. In the end four charged up chicks duked it out for 2nd through 5th place while the other four were bounced out and put on the sidelines.
The qualifying breakdown started with Elena, and followed with Sun Valley local Kaitlyn Farrington who snuggled up with a 2nd place finish. Kaitlyn was one of the first girls to drop with solid speed. The pay off for the additional danger was a good showing of smaller spins that popped high off the lip of the pipe. Always trying to spice things up Kaitlyn added corked spins, the best being a 540, a nice little Cab 720 and some classic air to fakies. Kaitlyn was also kind enough to provide some comic relief during her first run in the form of a random fall after completing her first run. A bump, or patch of ice, caused Kaitlyn to slip out at the bottom of the pipe and land not so softly on her rump, laughter ensued all in good fun.
Hot on Kaitlyn's heels was Elizabeth Beerman. Lizzy came through big with some 540's and other spins. Lizzy's 3rd place was largely due to the consistency of her runs. Landing smooth and keeping speed was Lizzy's ticket. The air time Lizzy showed in comparison to her friends put a little zing in her runs as well.
Jamie Anderson, trying to improve her pipe game, came out of the gates in style with a big first hit leading into some alley oops, backside rodeos and a sweet handplant to end the show. Jamie was hyped on her riding and the set up, "It was a good day, it's sunny and warm. The pipe's good, a little small, but good." Now headed to the Finals the 19 year-old legend seeks improvement, "I just want to do something better. I landed a mellow run, so I want something better." If Jamie's Superpipe career is anything like the rest of what she's got going on, my money is on Jamie bringing the heat.
Last to qualify was Kelly Marren, who didn't just qualify, but took 5th in style. The Cali' girl dropped in heavy, banging out a 540 off the lip and transitioning into various spins and popping off the best tailgrab of the day. Before dropping in Kelly could be heard screaming, "The party don't start till I walk in." When that same run was done Kelly left some 540's and a 900 in her wake, a pretty good party in my opinion.
Kjersti Ostgaard Buaas, Leslie Glenn, Meg Pugh and Michelle Zeller will not be in the Final. They got the boot, kicked to the side by the five above them. These ladies had highlights though. The most impressive of these being Kjersti's trick set. Good time loving Kjersti wasn't beaten, she just didn't win. Her 360 tailgrab and crippler are among the best in female pipe riding, and when she lands a full run, she's among the best in the business. Leslie, Meg and Michelle all had their moments as well. Leslie's front 540 was on point, Meg had a rad backside 180, and Michelle Zeller brought back the Indy Stiffy while listening to Danzig's Mother.
All and all the girls had a good time, rode well and as always, laughed while keeping things mellow. The show the girls put on is always a fun one. The energy they bring to both Superpipe and Slopestyle is a positive one. Full of good times and keeping true to what snowboarding is about, enjoying yourself and being with your friends. More ladies pipe action will come Saturday night under the Snowbasin lights. With pre-qualified female Dew Tour pipe leader Queralt Castellet joining the show an added intensity and spice should make for a good time, don't miss it.