Superpipe hosts heavyweights
It usually takes a few rounds to win a traditional boxing match, but it took Torah Bright and Mason Aguirre only one round to establish their dominance at the World Superpipe Championships (WSC) at Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) on Saturday. Both riders were first-time WSC champions.
Both snowboarders ruled the mammoth-sized superpipe, the largest of it’s kind with 22-foot walls and more than 400 feet in length, by laying down first runs that were so strong, no other snowboarder could even compete.
"I definitely wanted to stomp the first one," said Aguirre who barely missed the Olympic podium with a fourth place finish on the halfpipe in Turin.
Bright won last weekend’s women’s competition with a score of 93.0, putting her over seven points ahead of the rest of the field.
"Its cool. I did what I set out to do today. That’s all I can ask for," Bright said.
The gracious young Aussie who lives in Salt Lake was no doubt responding to a fan section devoted entirely to her. Led by her brother-in-law, the crowd held up "Torah" signs and went wild after her first run. Her mother, on vacation from the "Land Down Under" was also on hand to give her boost.
"It makes it so much more fun when your family is here," Bright said.
Close behind Bright, was Japan’s Soko Yamaoko, who earned a 90.0 in the second run. Meg Pugh of Sunnyvale, Calif. won the surprise bronze after laying down three consistent runs and finishing with a high score of 77.0.
"I’m so honored to be on the podium with these guys," said the stunned Pugh.
Aguirre (Duluth, Minn.) followed suit wrapping up the first round with a solid 90.0 performance. He was joined on the podium by Kevin Pearce (Norwich, Vt.) with a 81.67 and Jack Mitrani (Mammoth Lakes) with a 76.0. All three of the male winners won on their run down the pipe.
The winners were given gleaming boxing-style title belts to fit in with the competition’s boxing theme. The competitors strapped on the belts before posing for post-competition pictures.
"It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever won," Pugh said. "When my great grandkids see this in 80 years, they’ll think I really did something."
For many of the riders, this was their first time down the massive pipe. Some had competed on a similar sized version in Steamboat Springs, Colo., but others, such as Bright, only had the practice runs to adjust.
"You have to go so much faster," said Mitrani.
Besides the absolute need for speed to get air and complete tricks in the large pipe, the walls are almost inverted at the lip of the pipe, which gave riders a further adjustment to make to complete their runs successfully.
The competition was a great training round for many of the riders that are competing in Stratton, Vt. this weekend at the U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships. Also held in a large superpipe, the WSC event allowed the athletes to build their confidence for one of the bigger snowboarding events of the year.
"It’s good to come here and go there and have the same feeling," said Mitrani, who is a native of Stratton and hopes the competition in his hometown will result in similar medal winning results.
Besides Bright’s supporters, crowds filled the stands and lined the sides of the pipes to cheer on their favorite riders. Olympic gold-medal winner Shawn "The Flying tomato" White was also among the spectators hidden by his gear, but the tell-tale red hair soon started peeking out and got the crowd even more excited.
On Sunday, the skiers were out in the pipe. Tanner Hall, who trains in PCMR’s parks, took first place with a winning score of 90.0 on his third run. He was followed by Simon Dumont (Bethel, Maine) of with a score of 84.33 and Andrew Woods of (Georgia, Vt.), who finished with a score of 80.67.
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