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Schiller’s switch 1440 mute awes all

Ian Cropp
FSO T.J. Schiller PU 1-21
ALL |

VAIL – T.J. Schiller did in one jump what it takes the Earth four days to do.Four full rotation, a 1440.But Schiller did the trick switch with a mute grab.And while the Earth has had years and years of practice, Schiller had never even attempted the trick before. Nobody had even landed it before.So when Schiller returned from his journey into uncharted waters and glided towards the finish area, he was immediately bombarded by a group of fans, friends and fellow skiers. On what was the final run of the night in Saturday’s big air competition of the U.S. Freeskiing Open, everyone knew that Schiller had taken first place for the second year in a row.”That was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen,” said fellow competitor Justin Dorey. “It was a ridiculously big 1440. It wasn’t all tucked up. It was huge, and he grabbed it. Other’s were just as incredulous of Schiller’s super-human trick.

“Did we just have a dream?” one fan screamed.”Am I being punked or something? Ashton (Kutcher) come on out,” another fan yelled.Then there was Schiller’s reaction.”Sorry guys, I’m out of it right now,” Schiller said, with his skis still on. “On a scale of one to 10, it feels like a 14.”Road to repeatOf the initial 39 competitors, a field of eight was chosen to go head-to-head in the quarterfinals.

Schiller, who was ranked second out of the top-eight riders entering the quarterfinals, beat Jacob Wester, then swept Sammy Carlson in the best of three semifinals.Eighth-ranked Charles Gagnier, who finished second overall on the night, defeated Laurent Favre in the quarterfinals, and then knocked off third-place finisher Andreas Haveit in the final bout of their semifinal match.Gagnier executed challenging and near flawless tricks all night.In the finals, Gagnier landed a switch 1080.”I saw Charles do a switch unnatural 1080, and I can’t even do a 900,” Schiller said. “Charles is one of my favorite riders. He got me amped up (for my run).”Skiing through pain

In his semifinal matchup, Haveit looked like he might have had his final runs of the evening after he winced in pain upon landing a jump.”I hurt my ribs earlier, and I didn’t compete in superpipe today, so I didn’t know if I could even do this,” Haveit said. “Sometimes it felt OK, but at other times, it felt like someone was sticking a knife in my chest.”Even with his broken ribs, Haveit ripped a fakie 1080 tail grab on his final run to secure a podium.”I’m so stoked,” Haveit said. “I had more speed, went bigger, and held the grab for as long as I could. It was my best trick ever.”Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14631, or icropp@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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