I'm just going to put this out there; doubters be damned. If Shaun White had shown up to Winter X Europe -- and I'm betting my left leg he's gritting his teeth, wishing he had, just to prove to himself and the rest of the world that he could have had it -- he might not have won.
Friday night's Men's Snowboard SuperPipe final may have been the best pipe contest of the year.
The first run was anticlimactic, and five of eight riders went down. On the second run, home-crowd favorite Mathieu Crepel threw a frontside double cork 1080, frontside 1260 and an alley oop rodeo, prompting a "Hot brie coming down the halfpipe!" from the announcers. Score: 95.00, the highest of the night.
Next up, Louie Vito, the Tignes Dancer. In a competitive halfpipe first, Vito put down the triple double -- back-to-back-to-back double corks. Danny Davis landed three doubles to win the Mammoth Grand Prix in December, but he threw a 900 and a crail air between his first and second two. The fact that Vito's score -- a 92.33 -- didn't beat Crepel's, was upsetting ... for about 45 seconds.
"I've never done those all three in a row. At X Games in Aspen this year, I fell on all three runs in finals so I was going to just put a run down instead of going for it. But after I fell the first run, I was over putting down a mellow run and just wanted to go for it. To do it when it counts and not in practice is always nice," said Vito.
In dropped Iouri Podladtchikov with a Cab double cork 1080, inverted frontside 540 and then the trick that he learned a week ago (and landed on his second try) -- the double McTwist 1260, aka Shaun White's trick, in the middle of his run. He went on to lay down a frontside 1080 and Cab 720. Score: 98.00 -- the highest in Winter X history.
"Two weeks before the Olympics, I did it in my head. Then I started [trying it] a week ago. The Olympics were a big downer for me, and I came home and didn't ride. I came back from a relaxing trip, went to a session and landed it second try," said I-Pod.
Or is it?
"I have another double that I've never shown in competition," confirmed I-Pod, "and of course I'm going to add that to my run. I want to make it interesting, and I've never stopped believing that it's possible to beat Shaun. You shouldn't either ..."
Both riders are scheduled to appear at The U.S. Open of Snowboarding, March 18-20 in Stratton, Vt. It should be a treat.
Men's Snowboard SuperPipe finals results:
1. Iouri Podladtchikov, 98.00
2. Mathieu Crepel, 95.00
3. Louie Vito, 92.33
4. Markus Malin, 90.33
5. Aluan Ricciardi, 88.66
6. Christian Haller, 85.00
7. Luke Mitrani, 82.33
8. J.J. Thomas, 79.66