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The halfpipe haps in Tignes for the televisually impaired.
Righto, let's start with an apology. We wanted to do this for the women's and the slopestyle at this, the first ever European Winter X-Games, but technical difficulties prevented it. And by technical difficulties we mean one of the hamsters powering our internets keeled over and died. And our intravenous booze drip malfunctioned. Or we were too busy doing something else. Ah well, one of those might be true.
But, hey, that was then and this is now. We are locked in to the superlative strewn American drawl on the Canal + live feed and shall be reporting in a hit-by-hit manner on what they, the organisers, have decreed to be the blue ribband event - the men's Halfpipe - should you not be able to get on the feed due to work blockers, dead rodents or an aversion to American commentry.
And an interesting finale it should be, following, as it is, hot on the heels of the Greatest Snowboarding Halfpipe Competition Ever Of All Time (c), (r), (tm) that was the Olympics. This time round there's no Shaun White (dinner date with Obama), Peetu Piiroinen (drinking in the success of his second TTR World crown) or Scotty Lago (living the dream on TMZ), but there's certainly enough big hitters to make things interesting, so expect double corks, beefcake airs and (potentially) better camerawork than at Cypress. Of course, if you're reading this chances are you can't see the camerawork so we'll let you know on that one, but suffice to say there will be (potentially) better Minute-By-Minute reporting as it won't be 5am here and we won't have drank 12 eco-conscious beers.
The finals are set to kick off at 18.00 Central European Time so we'll be back just before to give you some more waffle and let you know if they're calling any bits of the pipe the 'Money Hit', the 'Flange Cannon' or 'Joss Ackland's Spunky Backpack'. Until then, here is where we would give you our opinion on how the guys are riding and who's in with a chance, but unfortunately some rocket scientists declined to air the pipe qualifiers so we're going in blind. Here's who's in, and in the order they qualified...
1 - Markus Malin (FIN)
2 - Iouri Podladtchikov (SUI)
3 - Christian Haller (SUI)
4 - Louie Vito (USA)
5 - JJ Thomas (USA)
6 - Aluan Ricciardi (FRA)
7 - Mathieu Crepel (FRA)
8 - Luke Mitrani (FRA)
Ok, we did the thing where you close your eyes, wiggle your finger around and point and have come to the conclusion Luke Mitrani will win. In reality, though, we're backing Iouri Podladtchikov to take first, what with his back-to-back doubles and brand spanking new double McTwist 1260 that he may or may not deign to break out. But we're also backing the Frenchies to be in there somewhere what with the hometown support. Plus, despite our flippant remark earlier, Luke Mitrani has got killer style and a deep wizard's sleeve. And, dang, Markus Malin's been riding hard this season... So, as you can see, it's far from a done deal.
Come back shortly before 18.00, and refresh your page in every couple of minutes to read what goes down.
Until then, have a gander at the highlights of the women's pipe finals...
More Snowboarding >>
And, should you wish to see the bangers from the men's Slopestyle, then here's them apples for ya.
More Snowboarding >>
And to continue our avalanche of 'Ands', here's Jenny Jones's winning slopestyle run from this morning...
Hello, good evening and welcome to our live Minute-By-Minute event reporting from the inaugural Winter X-Games Europe in, as our American commentator cousins have been referring to it, Tiña, France.
Riders are warming up, prepping themselves to get busy in the pipe for the men's final in around 30 minutes, so to fill the time we’ll let you know some facts and figures hastily cribbed from deep within the X-Games’ webguts.
The measurements of the Superpipe used at the Winter X Games are as follows: 220 metres long, 18 metres wide, 5 to 6 metres high. The Tignes SuperPipe has the same dimensions as the one in Aspen that was host to the earlier X-Games event.
There are four judging criteria: amplitude, difficulty, execution and overall impression.
Each rider gets three runs, with the best run counting.
And there’s no SMS voting which, although maybe sucking for the French riders, is good for anyone who likes to see legitimate snowboarding competitions. Wooha. The lowest placed qualifier will have the honour of dropping first, so it will be American Frend Luke Mitrani who'll be getting proceedings underway. As we mentioned earlier we didn't see any of the qualifiers but we'll stick a virtual tenner on Luke's first hit being a double Heave-Ho...
So, Luke Mitrani stands atop Tignes' love tube, straps in and hopes to come gushing out the end with the mother of all money shots. The next 30-odd seconds will determine whether he's the snowboard equivalent of John Holmes or John Major. Edwina Currie, Jesus Luke, you don't want that... He kisses his iPod, drops and pulls a double heave ho, front 10, cab 7, front 7 haakon and alley oop to slam. We win our bet but Luke will have to land to avoid Edwina's sultry looks. 41 points.
Crepel. Front double cork 10 to bail. And the cries of a thousand Frenchmen fall flat. He tries another double and falls. Another two chances to get the crowd pumped, though, Mat.
Another Frenchman, Aluan Ricciardi has his chance to get the Frenchies pumped. What's he got? Big fs air, bs 9, to misarable fail for the French thus far.
Veteran JJ Thomas, woh the announcers say has competed in a hundred X Games or something, looks to show experience counts. Does it? Front 10, CAb 10, fs air, bs 9, something, then a McTwist. Having regular riders calling goofy tricks when you're typing sucks. Can I just say goofy riders rock, regular footer suck.
The dancing boy, Louie Vito, who Uli here reckons will double cork all over the place, gets ready to drop. And then there's a nice graphic thingy promoting something or other. 79.66 points for JJ by the way.
Ah, it was a replay of JJ's run. The regular footers here who are supposed to be helping me are still confused as to what some of his tricks were. Like I said, regular footers suck. Louie Vito's talking now. Show the boy riding!
After an eternity, Vito drops. He's goofy! Front double 10, cab double 10... and then bails. Damn. He'll do better in his next couple runs that's for sure. He's goofy, you see.
Swiss boy Christian Haller is up now. He didn't have the best time in Vancouver, can he make it count in Tiña?.. Big method, front 10, cab 10, front 5, back 5, front 9... and that's it for Hitch. 85 points dead and he goes into first for now.
Iouri Podladtchikov, a goofy rider it must be noted, is in the gate. Stance aside, we're backing him for the podium at a minimum. Do we know what we're talking about? He pulls out a cab double 10, front 6, back 10 scabber and the scabby scabbiness means that's a throwaway run for the iPod.
First place qualifier Markus Malin, a Finlander, is locked and loaded. He unloads into a huge fs air, bs 9, front double 10, cab 7, frons inverted 9 and back 10. A back 10? Gnarlaroo. That should be first place for now... and is, with 90.33 points.
Malin gets grilled by Anne-Flore Marxer, who seems as overwhelmed as Markus. As it stands, it's Malin, Haller and JJ Thomas on the 1, 2, 3 right now. My assistant goes to relieve himself now so if these ads finish abruptly I am royally screwed.
Ads done. Uli back from the bog. Action coming up from Tiña. 5 out of the 8 riders fell on their first runs so they'd better be stepping it up if they want a sniff. Luke Mitrani fires in for run 2 ... double heave ho, front 10, haakon, front 9, alley oop back rodeo. Better, Luke, but he'll need to improve the lower half of his run as he lost speed on the front 10. Gotta deliver on the last run now. 82.33 points. Our lot here think the judging is off a tad on that
Mat Crepel drops into a wall of French noise. Front double 10, haakon, front 12, air fakie, switch back 9, switch backside alley oop rodeo. Everyone here is going nuts for Mat's run. If he's not in first, then the world is wrong. That, right there, was a killer run. 95.0 points. His reward? A tete a tete with AFM. Allez les bleues et merci a touts.
More for the locals to cheer as Aluan Ricciardi drops in with... big fs air, back 9, front 10, haakon to a bit of a flat landing to shoulder barge with the flat bottom. He was going big, but 'ouch' is all he'll end up with.
JJ Thomas, with what the announcers claim to be the 'Mustache of Power', offers up front 10, cab 9... to revert, speed loss and nul more points than his first effort.
Louie Vito looks to up his first run's score and prove me right about goofy riders. We're watching Crepel's run again and, despite being a regular foot, that is most certainly one whale cock of a run. It will be VERY hard to beat Le Crepe...
The question is 'what's Vito got?' The answer is... front double 10, cab double 10, another double... err.. back 9, front 10. That's a banger. And... and ... and.. 92.83 points is what he gets.
Louie's stoked to have got 3 doubles in a row - the first in competition EVER - but it's only good enough for 2nd. Is that fair? We would say yes. We'd explain but Christian Haller drops and... backside air, front 10, cab 10, front 5, back 5, front 9 to slammeroory. That's not going to have any bearing on things.
iPod, Switzerland's very own snowboarding rockstar, gets his second run going with a cab double 10, huge front 5, backside double McTwist 12, and a cab 10. BAAAAAAAAAANG! This final is nuts. Who needs Shaun White?
98.0 points for iPod. First place. Booya. God, we love being right. Bullshit aside, that was a serious run. He's speachless. The commentators can't say his name. Priceless.
Markus Malin will have to turn it up if he wants any of this X Games gold. Frontside air, back 9, front double 10, cab double 10, weirdest front 5 ever and attempted back 12 to scuffery. Good effort, but not good enough.
As Flight of the Conchords once sang 'It's business, it's business time'. Third runs about to kick off and it's make or break time. Can anyone better Iouri's run? To quote Winehouse, 'I say noooo nooo no.'
So it is round three now. Thanks, again, Coco from 7Sky for the beer :) Mitrani drops for a double heave ho to anus. Game over for the American.
Now it's Mat Crepel's last chance to send the crowd into delirium. He needs 98.01, and that is tough. Front double 10 hand drag... cab 3... something... he knows that's not gonna be donning the disco platforms, but he's in silver spot. Will he hang on?
Aluan Ricciardi drops to French people roaring. What's he got? Fs air, bs 9, front 9, McTwist, front 10. Not gonna be good enough for a podium but he landed his run and looks happy enough. Jesus. 5th place as it stands. As an aside, why can't these announcers pronounce Iouri's name? It's POD-LAD-TCHI-KOV. Where on earth do they get the 'Pad' from?
JJ Thomas, currently 8th, needs to bring it now. He's got a front 7, cab 7, lein, method, McTwist and a slasher. To be fair, he knew the game was up and just had a run for himself right there. To try and squeeze on the podium in this gig would require some riding from another planet right now, and it looked like JJ knew he'd rather leave it to the kids to scrap for this one.
Louie Vito's up for his last run. Front double 10, cab double 10, front 5, back 9... arrrrrgh, to sketcher. Props for putting together back-to-back-to-back double corks, but that's all for Vito
Christian Haller's last shot at moving on up goes like this: bs air, front 10, cab 7, someting or other, window winder, alley oop... Again, he knew the game was up half way down that run.
Iouri in a funny position here. What does he do? He's posted the highest pipe score in an X Games pipe contest ever... He drops. Cab double 10, front 5, massive bs air, and then a couple more straight airs. It looked like he was up for trying the double McTwist again but wasn't set up quite right. But damn, the one he did in his second run was smoother and more stylish than Shaun does em.
Markus Malin will have to have the run of his life here to nudge Iouri from the top spot. He's frickin good, but is he that good? We'll see now... biig fs air, bs 9, front double 10, cab double 10, front 5, annnnnnddddddddd back 12 attempt. He was battling for a podium spot right there until the last hit, but comes away with no bling. Iouri Podladchikov is the winner of the first ever European Winter X Games halfpipe. And he did it with one of the sickest runs you'll ever see.
That was quite some halfpipe competition. You want the final standings? Here they are.
1. Iouri Podladtchikov (SUI)98.00
2. Mathieu Crepel (FRA) 95.00
3. Louie Vito (USA) 92.33
4. Markus Malin (FIN) 90.33
5. Aluan Ricciardi (FRA) 88.66
6. Chris Haller (SUI) 85.00
7. Luke Mitrani (USA) 82.33
8. JJ Thomas (USA) 79.66
According to our American friends, Tiña is about to explode. And so are we, this eco-conscious beer certainly goes through you, but more importantly we've just seen some history go down right before our very eyes. Iouri Podladtchikov won gold with the highest score ever in a men's X Games halfpipe contest, putting down the double McTwist 1260 that only Shaun White had busted out in competition before; and Louie Vito landed three double corks in a row - again unprecedented in pipe contests. Plus Mat Crepel's run was a joy to watch, and the other guys did more than merely make up the numbers too. All in all, bangertronic.
Check back tomorrow/Monday for full video highlights of this gnarlfest of a pipe comp, and in the meantime - go snowboarding over the weekend.
Thanks for reading. We are out.