‘Everybody has their days’: Vanular is golden in pipe
COPPER MOUNTAIN – A teenage skier from a small resort in Maine won the gold medal at the Winter Gravity Games men’s superpipe competition on Saturday, but it wasn’t Simon Dumont.Less shocking than the Red Sox winning the World Series, this news still had its surprise: Dumont, 18, is the two-time defending Winter X Games pipe gold medalist. Saturday’s winner, 17-year-old Corey Vanular, didn’t even make it out of X Games qualifying.What’s more, Vanular expected so little of himself on Saturday that he thought he’d be lucky just to keep from falling.”I didn’t even think I was going to land a run today,” he said after his score of 83.7 held up in the two-hour jam format at Copper. “I’m sort of just in shock right now. I’m pretty pumped, loving every minute of it.”Everybody has their days,” he added. “I don’t know … I guess today was mine.”Vermont native Andrew Woods (82.0) edged Dumont (81.3) for silver, leaving the reigning X Games pipe king to settle for bronze. Dumont wasn’t pleased with his own skiing (“I think I skied like crap,” he said while sitting in the snow with a look of frustration on his face afterward), but he was far from surprised by Vanular’s victory.”Heck no. I know that kid has a bunch of style,” said Dumont, who has put tiny Sunday River Ski Area on the freeskiing map in recent years. “He’s been throwing that stuff every year; he’s just got a little bit more amplitude now.”Vanular won with style – and plenty of variety. He started with a corked (off-axis) 540, then followed that with a sky-high straight air, a corked 900, a corked 1080 and a switch rodeo (inverted) 720.
The Ontario native, who attends high school at Maine’s Carabasset Valley Academy and skis at Sugarloaf, said the winning run was one of his cleanest of the year.Frenchman Mathias Wecxsteen took fourth, a point back of Dumont, and Whistler, B.C., ripper TJ Schiller (80.0) rounded out the top five.Pitkin County skiers Peter Olenick (Aspen, 77.0) and Jon Lafferty (Snowmass, 74.0) finished ninth and 10th, respectively.Copper local Greg Tuffelmire, a local fan favorite if ever there were one, skied to one of the more spectacular 13th-place finishes in recent freeskiing memory.The 28-year-old opened each of his last five runs, including the event’s finale, with a 1260 – three and a half rotations. Tuffelmire is the only skier in history to land that trick in competition, and the crowd went wild each time he stuck the landing, his long blonde hair waving in the wind.He gave up a lot of momentum due to the opening trick, however, and only was able to hit the pipe’s finely groomed lip twice more – except for his last run, when he hit it three more times.”I didn’t expect it to take that much (momentum) away,” he said of the 1260. “I was hoping to get four big hits in, instead of just three. But that’s the way that I played the game, so no regrets here.”Because the pipe slowed down a bit after the sun disappeared, almost all of the high-scoring runs came at or near the beginning of the two-hour session. Dumont’s bronze-medal run was his first of the day, and Vanular’s winner also took place early on.
Despite Vanular’s attempts to add crash of the day honors to his gold medal – he lost a ski when he cracked the lip of the pipe on his final run of the day – Park City’s Scott Hibbert got the nod.Hibbert hit the deck above the pipe at freefall speed early in the event, then bounced face first back down the 18-foot wall. He lay on the snow for a minute or so, then raised his pole to signal that he was OK.Men’s Ski Superpipe Results1. Corey Vanular83.72. Andrew Woods82.03. Simon Dumont81.34. Mathias Wecxsteen80.3
5. TJ Schiller80.06. JP Solberg79.07. Josh Bibby78.78. Sean Field78.39. Peter Olenick77.010. Jon Lafferty74.010. Craig Coker74.010. Christopher Monson74.0
13. Greg Tuffelmire72.014. Scott Hibbert68.315. Ryan McPherson65.716. John Spriggs 65.317. Dan Marion56.018. Fritz Van De Mark 46.0Vail, Colorado