Copper Grand Prix Men's Halfpipe Qualifiers

Words: T. Bird

If you're a fan of halfpipe, it's events like today's Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colorado that you live for, because you're witnessing the next step in the ever-growing evolution of pipe riding. Under blue skies and crisp Colorado cold, the world's best took to Copper's 22-foot pipe and their performances were, well, dizzying to say the least. The pre-Olympic buzz surrounding the men's qualifiers was obviously a hot topic as I overheard a grown man in a fur coat discussing to his two small (and most likely embarrassed) children, the importance of the first of three Grand Prixs that will culminate in the naming of the US Olympic snowboard team.

“Today was a giant leap in the evolution of halfpipe riding.”

Ok, now I know many of you are sitting around discussing the recent double cork craze, trying to figure out if it's a good thing for snowboarding or not. I'm still on the fence myself, not completely convinced if what I saw today was awesome or awful. Truth be told though, it's fucking impressive to watch these dudes land doubles and I guess my theory is that if they can do them with style, then it's cool with me. Regardless, today was a giant leap in the evolution of halfpipe riding. Notable runs included Danny Davis, Jack Mitrani, Louie Vito, Greg Bretz, Ryo Aono, Steve Fisher, Dustin Craven, Scotty Lago, and the list goes on. To be honest, I woke up with an excruciating hangover from the night before and didn't really get through it until halfway through the contest, but trust me, there was some shit that went down.

In the end, 16 riders were chosen for the finals on Saturday, with Shaun White qualifying first overall and Louie Vito and Greg Bretz hot on his heels in second and third respectively. Of note is the fact that Shaun and Louie were the only two riders today to put down back-to-back doubles, so it seems that the riders who qualified for tomorrow's final who were holding back tricks will most definitely need to drop them in their line to come out on top.

Stay tuned to for all the photos, videos and recaps of the first Grand Prix of the 2009/2010 season at Copper Mountain, Colorado.