The Men's Freeski Superpipe Qualifier was the final event in an action-packed third day of the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships in Breckenridge, Colorado.
Held under the lights, the qualifier consisted of 26 freeskiers each taking two runs down the pipe, counting only their best score, in order to advance the top 16 athletes to the final that’s going down Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Like its slopestyle counterpart, the field of superpipe competitors was filled with perennial podium owners, from the 18-year-old man-child Torin Yater-Wallace and family man David Wise to crafty veteran Simon Dumont and France's Kevin Rolland.
As the temperatures dropped, the contest heated up inside the fast pipe with American freeskiers looking to earn valuable USSA points in order to qualify to compete in Sochi, and every athlete out there had nothing but good things to say about Dew Tour acting as an official selection event.
"I'm so stoked," Aaron Blunck exclaimed. "Breckenridge couldn't have hosted a better event."
The superpipe qualifier was the first event of the weekend held under the lights, and they shined the brightest on Torin Yater-Wallace, winning the qualifier on his first run with a 93.
Yater-Wallace's winning run included a double 1260, left 1080, switch 720, alley-oop rodeo 540 to a right flatspin 540 and ended on a leftside 900.
The Aspen, Col. native competed tonight with a collapsed lung that he suffered a week and a half ago. "I'm a little out of breath," Yater-Wallace said about a condition that he says is not serious, but noted that he finds the altitude to be challenging. "I'm all good, just hard out here in the cold to breathe. I'm all set."
Heading into the finals expect Yater-Wallace, whom freeskier Devin Logan calls an "original G," to "definitely bring more stuff."
During the final run of the first round, the lights went out on David Wise, and the Sochi hopeful subsequently crashed near the end of his run. Because of technical difficulties the competition jury decided to give him a re-run. He took advantage of this opportunity and scored an 88, good enough for 5th place and a spot in the finals, which he said will include more doubles.
The qualifier also featured Gus Kenworthy's second attempt at qualifying for finals in two disciplines - he already made the finals in slopestyle, which you can watch Sunday at 12pm ET on NBC and DewTour.com. A common theme for Kenworthy this weekend has been sitting on the bubble. Like the slopestyle qualifier, Kenworthy found himself too close for comfort to the cut line, sitting in the 16th spot going into his final run. Despite battling a case of nerves at the top of the pipe, he stepped it up on Run 2, moving up the leaderboard just enough to guarantee his spot in the final.
His quest for two finals has taken a toll on Kenworthy's body, admitting that he feels sore. To overcome that, he's not necessarily doing more training. "I'm not doing much to stay loose," he said. "It's just mental, so I just focus on the event at hand."
Last year's superpipe champion Justin Dorey also found himself in a less-than-ideal spot after his first run, sitting outside the top 16. A clutch second run was just enough to land Dorey inside the cut line in 15th. Expect him to come out with a more aggressive run in tomorrow's final.
1st Place - Torin Yater-Wallace
2nd Place – Kevin Rolland
3rd Place - Aaron Blunck
4th Place – Mike Riddle
5th Place – David Wise
6th Place – Kyle Smaine
7th Place – Simon Dumont
8th Place – Noah Bowman
9th Place – Alex Ferreira
10th Place – Beau-James Wells
11th Place – Taylor Seaton
12th Place – Lyman Currier
13th Place – Gus Kenworthy
14th Place – Broby Leeds
15th Place – Justin Dorey
16th Place – Simon d’Artois