By Sean Radich
Sunday, 27 August 2006
Coming off the back of the best day of slopestyle seen in Australia, today we saw the highest standard of halfpipe competition ever held in this country. Perisher have done a great job building an excellent halfpipe despite the lean snow season. It was shaped perfectly today, with the only problem being able to maintain speed due to the softening walls and slushy flat-bottom. But the comp ran smoothly and quickly and with 3 runs in the finals, and the best run counting, the riders could really let it all out and throw down their best combinations.
Louie Vito was an early standout, stomping 7's, 9', cab 10's and the frist ever backside 1080 landed in an Australian competition. Little Louie rode like a little pocket dynamo and with his tech spins outscored the super-stylish Danny Kass, who secured 2nd place, to take home a A$20,000 winner's cheque. Can you beleive so much money was on offer in Oz? Awesome! Home town Olympian, Andrew Burton, took third ahead of a strong international and local lineup, and also won an extra $1000 for 'Best Performing Australian Male'.
In the women's it was a bit of a surprise with Aussie Olympian, Holly Crawford winning the 20 G's ahead of equal second placeholders, Torah Bright and Gretchen Bleiler. Holly was going much bigger than the other girls in the comp, but, particularlly Torah, and Gretchen, threw down much more technical runs. Torah was able to piece together a run similar to her US Open winning performance: boned frontside air, to backside 360, switch backside 540 to cab 540. And Gretchen stomped several of her signature crippler 540's as well as some nice back and front spins. So after the comp a few competitors had some words to say to the judges, but that's the nature of all judged sports, i suppose. I personally like to see more tech tricks performed, but clearly the judges were impressed by amplitude that matched some of the men.
It was a fantastic couple of days of competition, with some absolutely big name internationals coming out for the prizemoney. I'm already hanging out for next year's Garnier Fructis Event.