The Men’s Snowboard Superpipe final on Sunday at Copper Mountain was one of the most heated pipe competitions of all time, with incredible runs from 9 of the 10 riders in the field.
Japan’s Yuto Totsuka, who has emerged as a dominant force in halfpipe competition, ended up on top, besting American Taylor Gold and his Japanese teammate Ruka Hirano for the top spot, after a clutch Run 3 performance: frontside double cork 1440 frontside grab, Cab double cork 1260 Weddle, switch backside double cork 1080 Indy, backside double cork 12260 Weddle, frontside double cork 1260 Weddle.
Totsuka won every major superpipe competition in the 2020-2021 season, but fell to third last week in the U.S. Grand Prix, also at Copper Mountain, and says he left that event disappointed and determined to get back on top. Mission accomplished.
“I’m very happy now but I still have more to show,” Totsuka said. “I want to make the frontside triple cork.”
It was Ayumu Hirano, also from Japan, who made history at Dew Tour, stomping a halfpipe-competition-first triple cork with his frontside triple 1440 (but falling on the next wall and finishing in 5th place), after first landing the trick in training at Saas-Fee, Switzerland in October. The bar has officially been raised. “I was very happy to land the triple cork in competition for the first time,” Hirano said, with a translation assist from his manager, Kosuke Shinozaki and, without any translation: “It’s game on.”
Yuto Totsuka and Ruka Hirano, who also learned frontside triple cork 1440s in Switzerland in October, didn’t break them out for Dew Tour but both say they’re coming; Shaun White and Scotty James are also both reportedly working on triples. The Beijing 2022 halfpipe competition is going to be one for the ages.
American Taylor Gold surprised – himself most of all – with his 2nd place finish on Sunday, after posting a huge Run 1 score of 92.00 that helped set the tone for the contest early on. In a contest with a historic triple cork and multiple double cork 1440s, Gold’s run proved that judges still reward unique tricks, innovation, and stylish grabs.
Gold opened Run 1 with a chicken wing-style McTwist Japan 540, then launched into a frontside 1260 tailgrab flatspin, a double Michalchuk 1080 with a unique melon to truck driver to Indy grab combo (Gold calls the trick a Chuck Taylor), a switch chickenwing McTwist that mirrored his first hit, and a Cab 1080 with a chicken salad grab (reaching between the legs with his rear hand to grab the heel edge of the board) on the last hit that judges loved.
“The Japanese guys are so freaking good, so anytime I’m in the mix next to those guys is a blessing,” Gold said. “I feel super fortunate to be able to compete with those guys, with a different approach. I’ve been watching the progression towards triple corks and kind of decided I wanted to take a bit of a different tack. I’ve always admired guys that included style tricks in their runs, and I think it brings a different element and makes it look more fun, more approachable. And it’s also hard as hell! To change the rhythm throughout the run is a real challenge, so I’m appreciative that the judges rewarded that and recognize that it’s hard.”
Ruka Hirano – no relation to Ayumu Hirano – finished 3rd, with a Run 2 score of 89.00 for his switch backside double cork 1080 Weddle, backside double cork 1260 Weddle, frontside double cork 1080 frontside grab, Cab double cork 1440 frontside grab, and alley-oop backside 540 Indy.
Shaun White, who announced this week that it’s his last year of competition – his last Dew Tour appearance and his last run at the Olympics, his 5th – threw his arms in the air in celebration when he landed a complete run in Run 3, after falls in both Run 1 and 2, ultimately finishing 7th. His run included a frontside double cork 1080 stalefish, Cab double cork 1080 stalefish, skyhook frontside 540 stalefish, backside double cork 1260 (no grab), and double cork 1260 stalefish.
White was the second-highest finisher among American riders, and will almost certainly make the top-4 cut for Beijing; the official Team USA announcement is scheduled for January 8, after the U.S. Grand Prix event at Mammoth Mountain, California.
Full Men’s Superpipe Final Results
- Yuto Totsuka, 95.50
- Taylor Gold, 92.00
- Ruka Hirano, 89.00
- Jan Scherrer, 88.00
- Ayumu Hirano, 86.75
- Valentino Guseli, 83.00
- Shaun White, 82.00
- Andre Hoeflich, 80.75
- Joey Okesson, 75.75
- Chase Josey, 29.25