By Shay Williams Freeskier Magazine – Good afternoon from Snowbasin, UT, site of the 2nd stop of the Winter Dew Tour. Nature has blessed us with another beautiful and warm day in which to hold a contest. On this morning's docket? Men's Halfpipe Preliminary round. 20 of the world's best took to the stunt ditch in hopes of making the top nine to qualify for tomorrow's halfpipe finals. The chosen nine will meet the top three ranked riders from the Dew Cup standings so far: Mike Riddle, Jossi Wells and Xavier Bertoni, in descending order. The stage was set, sun was shining, the crowd was eager and the judges were ready.
As the day progressed, it wasn't just the temperature that got hotter; the skiing reached real high levels. Qualifying first was Justin Dorey, who did two distinctly different runs, ultimately taking the smoother of the two that didn't include a double flip. Dorey's amplitude and bomb-ass switch 900, alley oop flat 360s and signature Double Pits to Justy style were enough for the top spot. Taking the second spot was Kevin Rolland, whose double flip, alley oop flatspin 360, switch 720, 900, and left 1260 were almost enough to topple Dorey. In the third qualifying spot was Peter Olenick, who took his alley-oop flatspin 540 to the moon into a 900-right 900 combo, 1080 to switch 720.
Fourth place goes to a name you might know, Simon Dumont. Dumont had a bit of scare after crashing his first run, but dialed it a back a bit for his last chance. A massive 900, to massive right 900 to double flip to air-to-fakie to switch 720 was dialed back enough for a safety run to snag fourth. Pipe mainstay Tucker Perkins went agro on this pipe, elevating his 900 game to new heights. Finn AJ Kemppainen pulled the wool over the crowds eyes, following up his mellow safety run with a technically challenging, right-to-left spin/flip combo run.
X Games medalist Colby West dialed a solid run in snag 7th. Relative newcomer Matt Duhamel took a technical, yet small-ish run, to the bank, grabbing 8th. And Team Captain Dan Marion bumped up his 2nd run score to knock Banks Gilberti off the bubble and allow for the TC to ride another day.
Unfortunately, only nine move on, and there were some people left in the dust. Birthday boy Matt Margetts tragically fell on both runs (once on a right 1080 and once on a left 1080) and will miss out on tomorrow's finals. Banks Gilberti skied valiantly and was barely nudged off the bubble. Thomas Krief, french youngster, is skiing years beyond his age, yet it wasn't quite enough today.
No doubt today was a primer for the powder keg that will be tomorrow's finals competition. Not only will the men be competing for glory and cash, but they'll be showcasing their skills on live television. Check out the Alli Sports website for the broadcast times.
Stay tuned for this afternoon's action: Women's Halfpipe Prelims. Sarah Burke, Jen Hudak, Virginie Favire, Jess Cumming and all the rest have come to Utah to play and we'll see who qualifies and who goes home. Meanwhile, the slopestyle boys have a nice mellow afternoon practice, gearing up for tomorrow's prelims.