Ah yes, it’s that time once more where I gaze into my crystal ball to predict the future of ski competition. After successful predictions of Bobby Brown dominating Winter X Games 14, I feel my track record is pretty reliable. Then again, predicting a Bobby win in this year’s ski competitions has been the skiing equivalent of a LA weatherman predicting sunshine, you can’t be wrong. Unfortunately, Mr. Brown won’t be found among competitors at the 2010 Sammy Carlson Invitational, as he will be north of the festivities celebrating Canada Day in Whistler.
The absence of the dual X-Games medalist has considerably opened the field for a new star to emerge today in Mt. Hood.
First, it’s worth noting that a couple skiers are side-lined or will be competing with injuries. Tim Durthschi went down hard yesterday, and its unknown at this time if he will be competing at all. Aspen Open Slopestyle and Halfpipe winner Gus Kenworthy hurt his ankle yesterday, and is out.
Even with those heavy-hitters seemingly out of the running, the field is straight up stacked with ski talent. As of this morning the line-up of skiers was:
After looking at this list of potential winners, its interesting to note that many of these skiers don’t frequently enter into major contests, either by choice or due to not receiving an invite. Can all these skiers bring their best when the pressure is on? The jam-style format, along with the summer back-drop, should make for a more casual atmopshere, but don’t rule out the pressures of competition either hurting or elevating the chances of a relative unknown.
According to a Newschoolers interview, “It’s going to be an hour-long jam, and even now it’s still a bit up in the air, but there’s going to be an overall impression category where the top eight will be decided by Tommy Ellingson, Eric Pollard and Liam Downey, and a best trick category where the top three will be decided by the riders,” said Carlson about the contest format.
With past experience comes more confidence in virtually anything, and I don’t think you can rule that factor out in the Sammy C Invitational. Sammy Carlson has earned three X Games medals and helped build the jump, something that should work in his favor. Truthfully, I believe Sammy is the one to beat going into his own contest. However, Carlson hasn’t confirmed if he plans to compete, but only that he will be skiing with the competitors. If he does compete, watch out. The man is rumored to have stomped triple corks/flips this season, and has greatly expanded his trick bag to include regular and switch 1440s in honor of the fallen CR Johnson.
Provided Carlson opts out of competing, I believe the next favorite would have to be Tom Wallisch. Wallisch was driving like a madman from Utah to Oregon yesterday, so he didn’t train the jump like other competitors. However, we all know Wallisch is about as close as you can get to being a ski robot, yet still manages to ooze style with every trick. Jump speed will be crucial to Wallisch’s success here, as he will be at a disadvantage until he finds a rhythm. Wallisch has arguably the deepest bag of tricks of any competitor, and his suction-cup landings will be marveled at all day, something that should be welcomed by judges.
After we move down the list of favorites, I believe the contest hits a virtual four-way tie between TJ Schiller, Phil Casabon, Alex Schlopy, and Dale Talkington. These skiers all have their respective strengths, and it will be interesting to see how things play out with their riding. Casabon has one of the most coveted styles in skiing, but has been hesistant in the past to throw doubles in contests. Given the fact a triple may be thrown given the size of the jump, its possible Casabon will step up to the plate with a double of his own on the monster kicker. A Casabon double may make the collective head of Newschoolers explode, along with his score by the judges. Schlopy has regular and switch double cork 14s, and has been steadily improving his style with every contest he enters. Talkington has proved to be no slouch with both technical tricks, and Wallisch-level style, and then there is Schiller, the man who double corked his way to a 1620 at X Games Big Air… The roster of talent for this contest truly makes it anyone’s ball-game.
Stay tuned this afternoon as we will bring you all the coverage of the SCI as soon as the contest breaks!