[Iouri Podladtchikov. Photo: Thomas Copsey]
"The best pipe contest ever" was bandied around the Crap Sogn Gion a bunch this afternoon, and it wasn't just idle bants as the Laax Open wrapped up with a superpipe final to end all superpipe finals.
Blue skies? Laser cut pipe? Most of the world's A-list stunt ditchers? The Laax Open pipe finals ticked a bunch of boxes, and when it came down to business no holds were barred as the men and women put on a stellar display of contemporary pipe riding in this monster of a snow trench.
Yesterday's men's slopestyle had an all-Canadian sweep, yet today it was the US riders that were dominant, with nine of the 18 finals spots taken by Donald Trump's loyal subjects, including both winners Chase Josey and Chloe Kim.
Last year's winner Arielle Gold (USA; 86.50) and Xuetong Cai (CHN, 85.25) finished as respective second and third in the women's event while 2015 world champion Scotty James (AUS; 96.50) and 2014 Olympic champion Iouri Podladtchikov (SUI; 91.75) rounded out the men's podium.
Despite a heavy showing from the rest of the women's field, and 1080s being thrown around with gay abandon, Chloe Kim was on fire and earned a 90.50 to deservedly take the win and her career's third in four starts.
Her run was killer: Method to frontside 1080 tail, cab 540 stalefish, switch backside 540 mute and a cab 720 Stalefish to finish things off, and the scary thing is she's just 16 – Kim is only going to get better.
And not to be outdone in the progressive stakes, the men took their lead from the high standard set by the women and again put on a show that would easily vie for the 'Best Pipe Comp Laax Has Ever Seen Stakes'.
The men's side of things was intense from the get go when Jan Scherrer opening things up with the run of his life to take and early lead, and the podium positions changing regularly throughout as one rider after another put down mind blowing runs - tip of the hat to Aussie Scotty James whose ballistic second run had riders rapidly adjusting their runs in order to compete.
But Chase Josey was certainly up to the challenge, and engaged his hyperdrive to put down a run that at 97.5 scratched the perfect 100.00 – with a total of five doubles in a row, two of them being switch to switch.
His run? A double Michalchuk to frontside double cork 1080 stalefish, switch double crippler indy, switch double michalchuck melon and a cab double cork 1080 mute in his last run of the day. It was a little lighter on amplitude than some others, but the technicality was mind blowing. There was little doubting his sincerity when he stated it was the best halfpipe run he's ever done.
Despite his best efforts Scotty James couldn't top that, having to settle for second, and nor could Iouri Podladtchikov – being the last to drop he put it all on the line but, though visibly stoked on his run, had to settle for third.
And with that, the 2017 Laax Open was wrapped up. Shit was tight, yo. #laaxisniceyo