It was a day of elimination on Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen on the second day of competition at Winter X Games 2012.
Friday was the first day of ski SuperPipe competition and, under the lights on a cold, clear night, 16 skiers fought for the top eight slots to move to Saturday’s finals.
In his hometown of Aspen, Colo., Torin Yater-Wallace places 3rd in the men's skiing SuperPipe eliminations. Photo by Sasha Coben.
David Wise, who the Association of Freeskiing Professionals ranked fourth in the world in halfpipe after last season, qualified first, followed by Canadian Justin Dorey, who earned silver in the event at Winter X Europe in 2011. Aspen's hometown hero and 2011 Winter X Games silver medalist Torin Yater-Wallace qualified third. Tune in on Saturday to see if Frenchman Kevin Rolland can three-peat or if one of his seven rivals will take this year’s title.
Women’s and men’s Skier X qualifiers took place earlier in the day, where Norweigians Marte Gjefsen and Hedda Berntsen took first and third, respectively. Sanna Luedi of Switzerland finished in second.
Men's and women's Skier X qualifiers were held Friday, the finals will be held on Sunday. Photo by Sasha Coben.
The women’s field has been greatly reduced by injury this season. Favorite Ophelie David fractured her left fibula on the Skier X course on Wednesday, while defending champion Kelsey Serwa is hurt from a crash at a World Cup race in Alpe d'Huez, France earlier this month. Fellow Canadians Julia Murray and Ashleigh McIvor are also out with ACL injuries sustained earlier in the season.
But the 28-deep men’s field was fully intact as they battled for the top slots. Finland’s Jouni Pellinen, Switzerland’s Armin Niederer and Canadian Nik Zoricic took the top three qualifying spots.
Those 18 skiers from Qualifying Run One advance to the Quarterfinal. The remaining 10 skiers race in Qualifying Run Two, where the top six skiers advance to the Quarterfinal. At X Games Skier X, six racers go head to head, whereas at traditional World Cup ski cross races, four athletes compete against each other, with the top two advancing from each round.
The crowd gathers around the bottom of the SuperPipe to cheer on the athletes and watch the action. Photo by Sasha Coben.
Ski cross history has been made by ex-World Cup racers who joined the sport once their World Cup careers expired, but now, thanks in part to burgeoning junior programs around the world, the sport is growing in popularity on its own terms.
Reigning world champion and X Games silver medalist Chris Del Bosco leads the Canadian team which includes 2010 X Games silver and bronze medalists Dave Duncan and Brady Leman. But 2011 X Games gold medalist John Teller from Mammoth Lakes, Calif. has said his goal this year is to make Winter X Games history by winning his second consecutive Skier X gold medal.
Check out a photo gallery from Day Two of the X Games here.
To get the scoop on Day One from the X Games, click here.