White reigns supreme at The Session
VAIL – By now, it isn’t a question of if Shaun White will rip off a crazy run at The Session slopestyle but more a question of when he’ll do it.It didn’t take too long Saturday night for White to lay claim to his third consecutive victory. Andreas Wiig (93.0) came in second, just like last year, and Travis Rice placed third (90.7).On White’s second run, he left the audience dizzy, the announcers struggling for air and fellow boarders amped with a precedent-setting run that only White could pull.After hitting a cab 1080 on the first jump and a switch backside 900 on the second jump, White turned it up another notch, nailing a backside 1080 and another 1080 with the cannon firing at his back. To finish off his 95.7-point run, White pulled an alley-oop rodeo and a 270 onto the picnic table before sliding his way down.”I was so stoked I got it out early,” White said. “I was nervous because I fell on the first hit of my first run, but I didn’t care that much because I knew I had a better run in me. I practiced this run before and made it really sketchy. I was barely hanging on, but it just came together for me tonight. It seems to happen in contests for me.”And for White, the only time it really can happen is in contests.
“That kid is amazing, and he’s just riding pipe.” said David Benedek, whose frontside 720, backside 900, switchback 720 and cab 900 put him in sixth place. “He just comes in and crushes everyone.”White’s run upped the ante directly following Wiig’s run in which Wiig went for two 900s and two 1080s, along with an inverted 270 on the pipe and a backside boardslide. Wiig wasn’t able to pull off the second 1080 on the fourth jump.Later in the evening, Wiig was able to land two 900s (a backside rodeo on the first jump and a switch backside 900 on the third) and two 1080s (a cab 1080 on the second jump and a frontside 1080 on the fourth jump) in addition to a frontside 720 followed by a backside boardslide, which put him in second place.On Wiig’s final run, however, he tried to do White one better by attempting four 1080s, but Wiig fell on the final 1080.”I had to go for it,” Wiig said. “I caught the board on the last jump, but it happens.”Kevin Pearce was the final rider who had a chance to dethrone White, and Pearce had an impressive run with a frontside 720, backside 900, cab 900 and frontside 1080 tail grab, followed by a McTwist on the quarterpipe and a boardslide to the gap of the rail. But Pearce’s score of 85.7 was not enough to deny White his third consecutive year at the top of the podium in Vail.”I’m liking it here,” White said. “Let’s bring the Olympics to Vail. This place is good luck for me.”
Dumping demons Rice took the lead early in the night with a run that had him seeing the night sky twice in one jump. After a backside 720 and a frontside 720 grab, Rice rocked a cab 900 nosegrab, then pulled a solid double backflip. He finished off the run with a 540 on the pipe and a smooth railslide.With the announcers contemplating all night when Rice would pull another double back flip, Rice came through on the final jump of his final run, attempting a frontside 1080 with two flips.”It’s been my demon,” Rice said. “I haven’t done it in two years. I’ve been working up to do it this entire contest. It was just one run too late was when I worked the (guts) up to try it. And I had it, but I was on the knuckle. Now that I finally faced the demon, it doesn’t seem quite as gnarly as I thought it was. I’m still stoked on (finishing) third.”Other riders gave Rice props for trying such an acrobatic trick.
“That was the gnarliest trick of the night,” Benedek said. “He’s only tried it once (before).””It was a sick move, and he’ll land it next time,” said Eero Niemela, who finished 13th.And if Rice pulls that next year, White may have to just find a gnarlier routine.”It’s going to be madness next year,” White said. “Honestly, it might come down to four 1080s, or three 1080s and a 1240. I don’t know; I might not come next year.”Yeah, right. He’ll be back. And it won’t be a question of when.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14631, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado