By Mike Rogge
"Wow," is probably the only word capable of describing today's Men's Slopestyle Final here at the second stop of the Winter Dew Tour. After yesterday's snow-dump, Mother Nature must have felt guilty or something because we were provided with blue skies and sunshine for most of the day. Plenty skiers shone brightly themselves; in the end, Per-Kristian Hunder edged out Alexis Godbout by a mere point-and-a-half for second place (86.67), while the Quebecois classic JF Houle gifted us with two fantastic runs.
The course was set up with a satisfying arrangement of features that went like this: two rail options, two more rail options, a jump, a canon box, down rail, jump, jump. Throughout the day, many athletes were commenting on how much fun the course was to ski.
The Swede Jon Olsson took to the course quite naturally. His work today featured a beautiful switch 10 into his patented double cork. Pipe specialist Mike Riddle proved he also knows a thing or two about skiing in the park, spinning on and off of the rails and tweaking the grab in his switch 10 in a way that defied biophysics. (Really quick: can we talk about how aesthetically-pleasing Riddle's Bow & Arrow was? Shnikes!) Henrik Harlaut, the third-place finisher at the Breckenridge stop, proved once again he is a force to be reckoned with on rails and jumps but had speed trouble on the last two jumps. Second- and first-place finishers at the Breck-stop, Jossi Wells and Bobby Brown, fell on their first runs. Mr. Brown came back to form in his second run, where the youngster threw one of the cleanest and stylish kangaroo flips on the bottom jump.
Sammy Carlson had a scary end to his first run when he slammed through one of the Mountain Dew banners. Unfazed, Sammy bounced back with arguably one of the best runs of the day, stomping left and right switch 10s with style on the last two jumps. Unfortunately, the judges scored Sammy lower than expected, which was met with jeers from the Mount Snow crowd.
Coming in third place today was Canadian Alexis Godbout, who spun 270 on and 630 off of the beginning rail feature before poking out a switch 9 mute that the on-looking Tanner Hall described as "delicious." PK Hunder, a man who's been practically glued to the podiums this season, came in second with a consistent and smooth run. He finished out his run with a nasty 1080.
First place, of course, went to monsieur JF Houle. The Quebecky showcased his rail skills with a 450 on 270 out on the top box, butter 270ing onto the down rail, before absolutely destroying the canon box. On the jumps the Canadian was equally impressive, spinning both ways with his 9s and holding his grab seemingly forever. With the win, JF moves into first place in the tour-wide Ski Slopestyle standings.