By: Nick Lipton – Apparently a 1080 or back to back 900s doesn't cut it these days. The Men's Snowboard Slopestyle Prelim redefined the 900 as a safety trick, 1080s are now commonplace, and without doublecorks, rail skills, and switch spins you might as well not show up. The 27 athletes in attendance had apparently gotten this memo, and the Icelandic wonder boy Halldór Helgason combined technical spins with the days premiere rail trickery to snatch up the top spot.
In announcer Preston Strout's own words, "His rail tricks were crazy." and the judges seemed to agree. Halldór Helgason pressed, spun and slid each jib feature as if he was filming a video part. Halldór's skill set isn't limited to rails either. This kid upped the ante with rodeo's, 1080's, a frontside 1080 doublecork and an attempted backside 1080 doublecork. Once again Preston had a comment, "If he puts those together nobody can touch him.
Halldór has some competition though. Chas Guldemond, 2nd place, is known for big spins and new tricks. His second place finish was largely due to a backside 1260, a trick you're most likely only going to see from Mr. Guldemond.
Sage Kotsenburg and Eric Willett, both Rocky mountain locals, placed 3rd and 4th respectively. Once again these two laid waste to the jump section with big spins, flips, and long held grabs. These two, having scored within a point of each other, should have a heated battle in the Final.
Landing himself in 5th place, and almost in the hospital, Stef Zeestraten was yet another guy to spin to win and make 900s look pathetically easy. Stef's second run however was almost his last this weekend because a clipped tail on a lip slide almost resulted in either a good grill breaking smack to the face or a bruised rib cage. However, Stef's quick feet saved him, and his first run was enough to advance him to the finals.
Big name boarders Heikki Sorsa and Tyler Flanagan rolled into 6th and 7th place. Heikki had some solid frontboards, a back nine, double backflip, and some sorta tornado ninja method type thing off the last jump. It could have been a 900, a 1080, or even a one billion, but all I know is he spun like the devil, opened up to poke a great method and then closed back up and continued to twirl like a top. It was awesome. Young Tyler Flanagan at all of 16 years-old dropped in switch, put down a Cab 270, and had all sorts of big spins for the crowd. Tyler's second run 720 tailgrab may have been his best looking trick though. The young man grabbed his tail and spun smooth and slow. Tyler is the future.
New Hampshire locals Brandon Reis, Scotty Lago and Sam Hulbert (8th, 9th, 10th) will also be riding in the Final. Brandon, like everyone else, brought the big tricks, but Brandon went bigger, and he brought a little something extra to the rail section. Spins and presses and all that other tech junk goes a long way against those who choose safety tricks through the rails. Also, Scotty Lago may be in 9th place, but don't think that matters. Scotty is one of those riders who at any moment can turn it on and take everyone down. He's already in the Superpipe Final, and after skipping his second run he'll be in the Slopestyle Final as well. Scotty's switch backside 900 was impressive during this Prelim, but watch for bigger spins, more flips, and a tougher trick selection on the rails. We'll also see Sam Hulbert in the Final. Sliding into 10th place Sam beat out plenty of big names with spins, both switch and regular, and plenty of style.
The Slopestyle Final is Sunday, and Slopestyle sensations Torstein Horgmo and Mikkel Bang will join these ten competitors in what should be a contest to remember. The number of 1080s, doublecorks, switch spins, and rail combo's will blow minds. Each of these twelve riders has the ability to land a blow away run, but with Lago, Chaz, Halldór, Mikkel and Torstein ready for battle, it's going to take more than your average "great run" to win this one.
1 Halldor Helgason
2 Chas Guldemond
3 Sage Kotsenburg
4 Eric Willett
5 Stef Zeestraten
6 Heikki Sorsa
7 Tyler Flanagan
8 Brandon Reis
9 Scotty Lago
10 Sam Hulbert
11 Tim Humphreys
12 Andreas Wiig