It was cold. Damn cold.
While anyone sensible took heed of Sundays frostbite warning and retired to the lodge for the rest of the day, competitors at the Nokia FIS World Cup threw on an extra layer and attacked the 16-foot walls of a near perfect halfpipe.
Magnus Sterner of Sweden ran away with the mens competition after an incredible first run in the finals. "It was just great today," said the 21-year-old, who was ranked in seventh after Saturdays qualifier. "I was not confident to make it since there were three other Swedes in the final and the Japanese were so strong. I didnt know what to expect. My frontside Haakon (inverted switch 720) was pretty big and probably did a lot to get me there but a judge doesnt refer to one trick only, its the entire run that counts."
After the qualifier, Stefan Karlsson, Markus Jonsson and Daniel Nordin of Sweden were sitting comfortably in the top three spots. Sterner, who came up big at the finals last year after the top two Swedes in that contest were injured, has a history of clutch performances.
Almost as surprising as Karlssons come-from-behind victory were the from-out-of-nowhere performances of Japans Daisuke Murakami, just 17, and Nakai Takahura, just 16, to finish second and third.
"This halfpipe really suits me a lot," said Murakami. "I just regarded it as a good friend. You could get good speed and the walls were pretty high the best of I have seen so far.
Blackcombs snowmaking and grooming teams worked overtime to get the pipe into World Cup condition before the event, and everyone from the judges to the riders gave them credit.
Two Canadian riders, David Melancon and Gabriel Authier, managed to stomp their way into the finals. Both are from Quebec and are originally and part of the 418 Crew, named after the area code of their home ski hills. In the finals, Melancon finished seventh and Authier finished ninth.
Melancon, 24, has been in Whistler for five years, and is probably best known as the Showcase Snowboards poster boy. Last year he won the Showcase Showdown halfpipe competition and finished third in the quarterpipe. This was his first ever World Cup halfpipe competition.
"At first I wasnt even supposed to go. I put my name on the waiting list, not expecting anything, but then I got a call on Friday morning to say that I was in," said Melancon.
"I just went and rode and did my best. I wasnt worrying about the cameras, just trying to do well and have my fun."