(Photo above: Smiling ear to ear Jake Pates takes top honors at today’s superpipe finals. Jake currently stands in second place on the U.S. Olympic Team qualifications right behind Ben Ferguson and ahead of Danny Davis. Photo: Crosland)
Men's superpipe launched snowboarding into the weekend of finals at Dew Tour Breckenridge, on Friday, December 15. The event was fueled by perfect weather making for an incredibly fast pipe, which was in complete contrast to the qualifier held in flat light and heavy snow fall the day prior. The format for the final allotted each of the 12 riders three runs with only their best score to decide the final rank.
The first rider to drop into the event was Ryan Wachendorfer, who barely slid into the final with a score of 50 in Thursday's qualifier. However the beginning of his first run in the final looked to be of podium merit, until the very last hit. He found a violent slam that resulted in a splint applied to his left arm and a ride off the hill in the toboggan. A shaky start t the final, to say the least.
The rest of the first runs went down fast and smooth, thanks to the pipes perfect condition. Australian Scotty James impressed everyone with his initial run in the pipe, and was sincerely rewarded with a score of 95. James' run included the following: frontside 900 grabbing melon, backside 1260 gabbing mute, frontside 1260 grabbing stalefish, backside 360 grabbing stalefish and a switch backside 900 grabbing mute to close.
At the end of the first set of runs it was James leading the field by a significant margin. Sochi Games gold medalist, Iouri Podlatchikov was next in line with a score of 85, and top qualifier Ben Ferguson just a few point behind him.
While a short break took place between runs, three regulars to the slopestyle course managed to sneak their way in and poached the pipe, which kept the fan and competing athlete energy high. Nick baden, Red Gerard and Blake Axelson ran back-to-back-to-back in close proximity throwing down an entertaining line for the masses.
The second set of runs saw similar moves from most riders, but nearly everyone that dropped cleaned up their tricks. James, for example, managed to bump his score up a single point to 96. Ayumu Hirano found himself overtaking Iouri and Ben to sit in the second place position with a score of 91. However, the third and final runs of the event saw a serious shuffle to the leaderboard.
James continued along with his same run, but it seemed to leave something to be desired on his final trick.
"I had a little bit more to give at the end, depending on where I was sitting" admitted James. "I took a pretty big spill during the week working on a switch backside 1260. Honestly, it kind of got me a little scared today. My head really wasn't in it, and I was not going to do it."
Jake Pates qualified second coming into the final, which meant he was second to last to drop. Pates wowed not only the crowd but the judges with a trick that nobody expected to see to close out his run. Pates' final run consisted of this year's trending trick the double Michalchuck grabbing indy to open which lead into a frontside double cork 1080 grabbing indy, cab double cork 1080 grabbing mute, frontside 900 grabbing tail and the unforeseen backside double cork 1260 grabbing tail to close. The final trick was also referred to it as double McTwist.
"I had a bit of pressure on me. I didn't really have a great practice up there today," said Pates. "I didn't really think about anything, but just trying to land my run. But, I guess, yeah the pressure might have played a role. I don't know… it was fun."
As Ben dropped in for his final run he was sitting in fifth. With a very creatively difficult and run that consisted of great variety and amplitude, Ben checked off all the criteria boxes well enough to surpass Hirano and finish the day in third overall. Ben's final run included an indy air to fakie, cab double cork 1080 grabbing mute, double crippler grabbing indy, backside 360 grabbing stalefish, switch McTwist grabbing mute and a switch double b-roll grabbing melon to finish.
Men’s Superpipe Final Results
1.) Jake Pates (USA), 97.33
2.) Scotty James (AUS), 96.00
3.) Ben Ferguson (USA), 92.00
4.) Ayumu Hirano (JPN), 91.00
5.) Iouri Podladtchikov (SUI), 87.33
6.) Danny Davis (USA), 83.33
7.) Chase Josey (USA), 82.66
8.) Gabe Ferguson (USA), 77.66
9.) Greg Bretz (USA), 77.00
10.) Jan Scherrer (SUI), 66.00
11.) Markus Malin (FIN), 50.00
12.) Ryan Wachendorfer (USA), 31.66