Riders clean out the pipe for last Nike Series event 

The last Nike Series halfpipe of the season got off to a slow start on May 5 with event staff and volunteers digging more than half a metre of new snow out of the pipe. Although the lure of fresh tracks was irresistible, more than 50 athletes, including a group of skiers, signed on.

The conditions made for icy, uneven walls and soft bottoms, but most riders were able to adjust their style and adapt.

Oakley White-Allen put together a nice run with grabs, spins, iron crosses and big air to win the amateur skier category with a score that was almost double that of the other two competitors. Rob De Montigny finished second, and JS Ratte was third. All three are local.

In the Junior Snowboarders 12 and Under category, Mike and Billy Hole took the top two spots, followed by Whistler Valley Snowboard Club (WVSC) prodigy Vinny Ligeti. Ligeti won almost every Nike Series halfpipe this season.

WVSC rider Sarah Kopinya, who has been excellent in the Nike Series and provincial competitions this season, once again took the top spot in the Amateur Women 13-17 division, beating out teammate Katelyn Scott.

Aaron Shapiro was the top amateur male, followed by teammate Tyler Quarles and Rob Hole.

In the Amateur Women Snowboarding 18 and Over, Locals Ayako Tanaka went inverted to take the top spot. Wendy Robinson was second, followed by Lisa Severn.

Japanese riders Yo Doshita, Takeshi Fujioka and Fumihiro Onuki were the top 18 and Over men.

The women’s pro field went to Stacey Burke of Calgary, a member of the national team who is currently based in Whistler. She cleared the walls on every pass, grabbed her board, and even pulled out a McTwist on the lower part of the pipe. Kristen Shaw finished second and Chiyoko Iwabuchi was third.

The men’s pro field went to Whistler’s Jesse Kumlea, who finished one-tenth of a point up on Tsuyoshi Sekiguchi, and almost two points ahead of WVSC jibber Oliver Roy. Kumlea, 20, recently won a bronze in the nationals and is a strong prospect for the national team.

On Sunday, the sun was out and the conditions were nearly perfect for the final slopestyle of the year. More than 60 athletes turned out for this event.

Yuya Aki of Japan was the best of eight amateur skiers who showed up, posting a strong first run and making the other competitors play catch-up. Bobby Beaton finished second by two-tenths of a point with a strong first run of his own. JS Ratte finished third.

Vinny Ligeti reclaimed his spot on top in the Under 12 category, beating Michael Mains with a strong second run.

Sarah Kopinya ran uncontested in the amateur women’s 13 to 17 field, but posted a run that would have put her third in the women’s pro category.

Aaron Shapiro turned in his second blue ribbon performance of the weekend to take the amateur men’s 13-17 field by more than two points. Johnny Lyall of the WVSC was second, followed by Reid Johnston.

The Amateur Women’s 18 and Over category belonged to Yumi Shirota, followed by Junko Miyata and Ritsuko Kuronuma.

The Amateur Men’s category was also a Japanese affair, with locals Kenichiro Nohara, Tatsuya Miyazaki, and Seiji Katsushima taking the medals.

In the women’s pro category, Australian Emily Thomas took the top spot by a two-point margin. Michiyo Hashimoto was second and Crystal Jennings third.

The men’s pro slopestyle went to Jesse Kumlea, followed by Oliver Roy and Lee Karlovic.

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