Young skiers rule Ski Invitational Superpipe 

Title goes to 18-year-old from Manitoba

Evidently the Prairies are not as flat as we’ve been led to believe.

Stacked against some of the top freeskiers in the world, legends like Candide Thovex and Philippe Belanger, Manitoba’s Jordan Monk came up huge to win the Garnier Fructis World Skiing Invitational Superpipe contest on April 20.

With the jam contest three-quarters over and Candide Thovex looking untouchable in the lead, the 18-year-old from Winnipeg put together a run that will have the other skiers talking and shaking their heads for quite some time. His first hit on that run was a corked 900, and his last was a huge corked 1080 – three complete rotations with a switch landing. The number of rotations, the amount of air that’s required, and the fact that the skier has to land backwards when all is said and done makes the 1080 one of the most difficult tricks for skiers in the halfpipe.

A number of competitors attempted the 1080 but Monk, who has a freestyle skiing background, was the only skier to stick it.

The judges awarded Monk 177 points for that effort, five points more than Thovex, and six more than Philou Poirier.

"Everybody’s representing the West Coast or the East Coast and I’m from the prairies, right in the middle so it was kind of cool to come out here and do well," said Monk, who had to qualify in order to make it into the finals.

He was first in the qualifier, and kept building on that momentum throughout the contest.

"I wasn’t expecting too much, really. I just wanted to ski well and hopefully finish somewhere in the top 10. I really wanted that 1080, so when I got it I was the happiest guy around. I wasn’t thinking about winning, just landing that jump."

Monk said he had some difficulty getting used to riding a slushy pipe at first, but after a few runs he decided he liked the softer landings.

"I’m used to it being really cold and basically skiing on ice," he said. "This was nice, but it was totally different for me. It was definitely the biggest result of my career.

"Everybody is really pushing the sport a lot, which was cool to see."

Thovex, who hails from France, showed why he is considered to be one of the best in the world with a run that included back-to-back 900s, a flare, a D-spin, and some big air.

Third place went to Philou Poirier, the winner of the 2000 World Skiing Invitational, who put together two 900s, one corked and the other a misty flip.

Phil Belanger was fourth with his spins and airs, and Whistler’s Chris Turpin fifth with the day’s only switch takeoff and landing, with a full inverted rotation in between.

The superpipe contest also gave us a glimpse into the not-too-distant future as a couple of younger skiers put on a show. Simon Dumont, just 15 years old, was launching more than 12 feet out of the pipe on a regular basis, and clearing more than 20 feet of ground between his takeoffs and landings. Whistler’s Kye Petersen, who is only 12-years-old, was getting upwards of 10 feet out of the superpipe himself, but was slightly injured while attempting a huge corked 900 at the tail end of an impressive run.

All of the competitors managed to get in at least one solid run leading up to the SuperHit competition, where athletes voted on the best jump of the day. Eighteen-year-old David Crichton, the winner of the slopestyle last year, was landing huge D-Spin 720s and 900s to collect the most votes.

Chris Turpin, Simon Dumont and Mark Abma got into a big air competition in the pipe, with Turpin launching up to 15 feet in the air and covering more than 40 feet of ground on one attempt. He landed switch on another attempt, and showed off the switch takeoff a few more times. Monk attempted to go for a personal best 1260 spin, but had trouble with the landings.

Prior to the men’s competition there was a women’s demonstration event. Sarah Burke landed the 720, Candice Drouin went big, Jaime Sundberg was consistent with her spins, and Jessica Bennie landed spins, grabs and other tricks on the way down.

"This is the best Superpipe competition that we’ve (the skiing industry) done so far," said Josh Loubek, head judge for the competition and a former competitive skier.

"Everything worked today – the weather, the jam format which was a ‘jam’ in the true sense of the word with two or three riders in the pipe at all times, and the incredible pipe conditions. It’s the end of the season and the skiers were just going for it with huge airs."

Monk won $10,000 for his efforts; Thovex won $5,000 and Poirier $2,500. Crichton won $5,000 for the SuperHit contest. A total of $55,000 was up for grabs at the World Skiing Invitational.

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