After narrowing the field down to a mere 8 skiers for this afternoon’s Men’s Skier Slopestyle Finals, it has to be a legit concern among the ski world if today’s action might be dare I say it – anti-climatic.
Last night history was made in a matter of an hour. The Big Air contest wiped the slate clean of what is possible among the freestyle skiing world. Within minutes of each other we saw the first switch double misty 1440, double cork 1620, and switch double cork 1440 thrown in any ski competition. Multiple perfect scores were awarded. Today, the skiers have the challenge of only one-upping themselves. Forget the competition among the 8 competitors, today is a competition to push the sport even further on the world’s biggest stage.
As I laid down on Thursday with my Big Air predictions (which were disturbingly accurate mind you, *claim*) I wanted to provide some insight into who I think might be walking away with some hardware after this afternoon.
TJ Schiller, Big Air boss from Vernon, BC, will not be in the slopestyle finals after shockingly missing the cut. Personally I think launching a double cork 1620 and stomping the daylights out of it should be an automatic re-entry to the slopestyle, but I’m not one of the ESPN producers in charge.
However, the other Big Air stud Bobby Brown, will be out taking names on the Buttermilk Mountain slopestyle course today. Bobby was the top qualifier for much of the day on Thursday with his 1-2 punch double flip line, but Norway’s Andreas Hatveit stole the lead spot with his powerful landings and fluid spins.
As for who I think will walk away with the gold: if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. The old proverb holds true here as I expect teen heartthrob Bobby Brown to stay robotic, and just keep slaying the course. Knowing Bobby’s down-to-earth lifestyle, he didn’t party his face off last night, even after dropping a perfect score. The kid will be on today, and I expect him to take his switch double misty 1440 to the “Money Booter.”
Switch double misty 1440, a move I expect Brown to throw today in slopestyle
The Big Air jump didn’t have all that much pop, which I believe should fall into Bobby’s favor for taking the move to the slopestyle bottom booter. Based on Bobby’s potential run, I’m going to put the odds at 3:1 for another downtown Bobby Brown victory. While I think Bobby has the arsenal of aerial moves to take down the field, there is a “dark horse” who could do some damage on the rails and jibs today.
Tom Wallisch has had a disappointing Winter X Games thus far. After qualifying a surprisingly low 5th place during slopestyle qualifiers, Wallisch was quickly eliminated from last night’s Big Air event after only the first round. For Wallisch, those disappointing results seem to imply he may be human. However, we know better to the fact Wallisch is simply a robot created in Pittsburgh to destroy metal railings worldwide with his superior “pretzel” maneuvers.
Look for Wallisch to clean up this run, and rely on his rail skills
With this year’s course having more rails and jibs than jumps, I give Wallisch a strong chance at 7:1 to pull the rookie upset. In particular, I believe Wallisch wants to leave a mark on Winter X with some historical jibbing.
If you find yourself in Vegas, and don’t agree with these top two picks then I assume the only other person you want to put your money on is the married Norwegian. Andreas Hatveit, the 28 year old with the backyard straight from heaven, has the deepest trick vocabulary in the field. Doubles both ways, 1080s both ways, the man has the skills to pay the bills.
Hatveit may need to rely on adding another double if he hopes to grab the title
The only question is will he put it all together? Hatveit has seemingly kept surprisingly conservative at Winter X, not throwing more than one double flip, and banking more on his style. Judging from the scores that innovative double flips and spins have been receiving, Hatveit will need to push the limits a bit more if he hopes to earn another slopestyle gold. Knowing his potential, I’m giving Hatveit’s victory at 10:1 odds.
I hope you will all tune in to ESPN 2 today at 4PM EST/1PM PST to check out the further progression of freestyle skiing, displayed directly to you on your TV.