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Tuffelmire, Burke, Olsson take World Skiing Invitational titles



Crowd of 15,000 for big air contest

The evolution of freeskiing continued last weekend as some of the top new school skiers from around the world cranked things up a notch for this year’s Garnier Fructis World Skiing Invitational.

The field of competitors was a true mix of talents, from young guns like Tanner Hall, David Crichton, Simon Dumont and John Symms, who are pushing the sport to new limits, to the grandfathers of new school movement – most of whom are still in their early to mid-20s – like Phil Poirier, Rex Thomas and Greg Tuffelmire. The young guns took their share of the prize loot, but age and experience definitely counted for something.

The understatement of the day by the announcers for both the superpipe and big air events was that they did not envy the judges. Still, someone had to win, and with $50,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs, the athletes had all the incentive they needed.

Salomon Superpipe/Superhit

Although you were hard-pressed at times to see even halfway up the pipe as the fog rolled in and out during the Salomon Superpipe, the show went on.

Judges moved to the mid-point on the pipe to see the entire length of it and to keep things moving smoothly, but there were a few delays between runs that kept the athletes to just three runs reach during the hour-long jam session.

First place, as well as the award for foresight, had to go to Greg Tuffelmire of Summit County Colorado.

The day before, Tuffelmire had traded his brand-new O’Neill jacket and pants to a British tourist for a one piece, 1980’s era one-piece ski suit with fluorescent yellow, blue and pink panels. The lime green Garnier Fructis bib completed the ensemble.

As a result, Tuffelmire was by far the most visible athlete in the pipe on Saturday, which he says played in his favour. He also claimed that the suit made it easier for him to the see the lip of the pipe when he was coming down.

Most of the spectators and judges were probably more impressed by Tuffelmire’s third run – which included two huge 1260s with a 900 thrown in for good measure – than they were by his outfit. That run was worth 24 points, and lifted the 26-year-old from fourth place into first with a score of 24.0.

"It’s a good trick, but it was nothing new," said a humble Tuffelmire after the contest. "Nick Mercon pulled the first (1260 spin) a couple years ago in a contest, and it’s taken me a while to catch up. Still, it came together pretty good. I’ve only landed it once before in training, and I landed four of them today."