On a Rolland – By Nick Cunkelman
Flying Frenchman wins back-to-back X Games golds
The night was almost a homecoming. With one skier left, Aspen native Torin-Yater Wallace stood at the bottom of the Buttermilk Superpipe holding on to first place with a score of 92.66. That one skier, however, was defending champ Kevin Rolland.
Double flair mute, alley-oop flatspin 3, switch 7, switch 9, double cork 12 mute, and as they say in France, or.
“I can’t believe that,” said Rolland at the bottom of the pipe. “I have three gold medals now! See you next year!”
But it was far from certain. Indeed, both the repeat champion and rookie Yater-Wallace each fell on their first two runs before finally putting together podium-worthy performances. Yater-Wallace, the clear hometown favorite who is the same age as the Winter X Games itself—a ripe ol’ 15—posted his 92.66 with a run of a rightside cork 9 tail, alley-oop flatspin 9 Japan, rightside cork 12, leftside 9, rightside mute 5, and alley-oop double flatspin 9.
“He’s 15 years old, it’s crazy,” said Rolland. “He put down a run like—nobody can do that.”
Bronze medalist and X Games veteran Simon Dumont had an equally impressive run as the Bethel, Maine native boosted out of the pipe more than any other competitor. Visibly determined in practice as he went through each hit individually instead of piecing together an entire run, Dumont came back from a hard fall on his first run to pull off a huge leftside double cork 12 mute, rightside cork 9 mute, a double flair in the stratosphere, and finish with an alley-oop flatspin 7 to a switch cork 10 on his second run. His 90.33 didn’t hold, though, as Tater-Wallace (his new Target teammate, notably) and Rolland each stuck their final runs.
At the medal ceremony later that night, Yater-Wallace was elated as shouts of “You’re a rock star!” rained down. And considering he’s only 15 and has learned five different doubles since the Breckenridge Dew Tour stop in December, the US men’s ski superpipe team at Sochi 2014 could very well be lead by an 18-year old Aspenite.
“He’s so money, so dialed, so safe, very, very methodical about the process of learning tricks,” said Yater-Wallace’s coach Aaron Anderson. “And after he crashed on his first run that was like money in the bank because to watch Torin crash was like, he’s definitely not going to crash again.”
Words of warning for the rest of competitive freeskiing.
WINTER X GAMES 15: SKIING SUPERPIPE MEN’S FINAL
1. Kevin Rolland 93.66
2. Torin Yater-Wallace 92.66
3. Simon Dumont 90.33
4. Duncan Adams 86.00
5. Thomas Krief 83.33
6. Justin Dorey 65.33
7. David Wise 56.66
8. Xavier Bertoni 40.66
Nick Cunkelman is a senior at Colby College in Waterville, ME who grew up skiing at Vermont’s Mad River Glen, a mere three-hour drive from his home in Acton, MA. His writing has appeared in The Colby Echo, The Jackson Hole News and Guide, and The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine. For more photos, go to sport-write-shoot.tumblr.com.