By Andrew Mitchell
After two days of qualifiers, and a closely contested semi-final round, the 10 th annual Showcase Showdown Pipestyle came down to the final run on Saturday night.
Over those two days the field was narrowed down from 100 qualifiers to the top five women and top-10 men for the finals — a few more contestants than the Price Is Right, but everybody still had to spin to get there.
The Pipestyle course was comprised of a hip jump up top, a section of halfpipe, a couple of c-boxes built into the walls of the pipe, and a choice of three boxes and rails at the bottom.
Each competitor had three runs in the finals, one more than they’d get in most contests. It also changed things drastically on the men’s side, as Chris Wimbles pulled out the smoothest run of the day on the pipestyle course with big airs and spins up top, a 270 on and 270 off the C-box, and a 540 over the gap onto the step-down rail at the bottom. He was also the smoothest rider of the day, and the only competitor to earn 20 points in all three runs.
“It was super fun, I’m just flying right now,” said Wimbles after being declared the winner. “It was totally crazy in the finals. I had crashes first two runs, and knew I needed a big, smooth ride to get in the money.”
Wimbles was a huge fan of the pipestyle format even before his win and acceptance of a cheque for $10,000.
“The setup was great, and you really had to change your mindset from one jump to the next, and everything came at you really fast. If you made even a little mistake up top, it was really hard to recover from it,” he said.
Part of the reason was the snow. Not only did it slow riders down in the transition, it also made it hard to spot the icy sections of the pipe. “Some things look like they should have been soft, but it was really only a little bit of snow on ice,” he said. “You had to be aware of the ice at all times.”
After hearing the crowd’s reaction to his last run, Wimbles knew he had a good chance of finishing in the top-three but also that it would be close, with Jacob Koia also nailing his last run. But while Koia went a little bigger up top, Wimbles landed everything cleanly and took a huge chance on the bottom rails. The final scores were 28.6 for Wimbles and 27.9 for Koia.