Spectators at the Salomon Superpipe and Playstation Big Air, the last two events of the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival, got a good look at the latest progression in skiing and snowboarding, with athletes trying and landing new tricks while raising the bar once again.
Last year a switch 1080 on skis was the top trick in the big air events, but in 2006 it seemed to be the minimum requirement for qualifying for the finals.
Crispin Lipscomb also pushed the boundaries in snowboarding, landing three 1440s – four complete rotations, landing switch – in the superpipe. For the women, a 720 in the halfpipe, landing backwards, was also becoming a stock move, and several athletes managed to squeeze 900 spins into their runs.
Putting skiers and snowboarders together definitely didn’t solve the "who’s better" argument, but instead provided a good contrast of skills and talents.
After a week of rain, snow and fog during training and qualifications, riders and skiers awoke to blue skies and sunshine on Saturday.
The snowboarders went first on a pipe that was well groomed but still ice hard, making for some fast transitions and big air.
In the women’s heat the momentum from the start belonged to Soko Yamaoka of Japan, who posted a big but safe run to take an early lead. Dominique Vallée, a Whistler rider who lives in Squamish, followed up with a strong first run of her own, while Tricia Byrnes of the U.S. had a little more trouble figuring out the pipe but still managed to rank third.
Things stayed the same through two more runs, although Trica Byrnes’ last run was almost good enough to knock Vallée out of second place.
The men’s competition was nothing short of amazing, with Whistler’s Crispin Lipscomb, who has been on the podium in the TWSSF three times, setting the bar high from the beginning with a stock run that went from a big straight air, to a 1080, to a cab 720, to a frontside 900, to another backside air, and finished with a stylish air to fakie. The run was worth a score of 9.0, and nobody would touch it through three more runs.
"Sunny days are always good, it was so cloudy for so long," he said. "When I woke up and it was sunny I was so excited, I felt ready to land everything."
Although it’s the end of a long season, Lipscomb says if Blackcomb was open another three weeks he’d be up every single day because the conditions were so good.