“Are these professionals?” asked a woman on the sidelines. And it wasn’t a stupid question. The halfpipe at Northstar-At-Tahoe on Sunday January 31 was pretty ugly, but that didn’t stop Ian Spiro and Autumn Rose from taking the money.
As if the pipe wasn’t enough of a problem, it snowed all day and the flat bottom was a bog during qualifiers. It was so slow that most riders weren’t even getting above the lip. This included rippers like JJ Thomas, Ian Spiro, Greg Goulet, and Jeff Billo.
“In this kind of pipe you’re going to have to get creative,” said Greg Goulet. “There is really nothing else you can do.” And Greg did just that, busting out solid skate-style lip tricks including air-to-disasters, nose “grinds,” and finished off with a 20 foot nose manual on the deck.
JJ Thomas, the winner of last week’s halfpipe event at Snowmass Colorado was have a rough time in the qualifiers. “You just can’t get any speed in this pipe,” Thomas said. “Travis is going to hook me up for the finals.”
Everyone wanted what Travis McLain had because he only rider going off in the pipe. He was consistently going five feet out and it was obvious that he had a secret weapon. What Travis had was super fast wax; the same wax that he used to take second place in GS the day before. McLain placed number one in the qualifiers with his wax and probably would have won the contest if he hadn’t shared a little with JJ Thomas and Ian Spiro.
With the new wax Spiro and Thomas were able to turn up the amplitude in the finals. On the first run JJ Thomas might have had a little too much speed and folded on the second hit. After than he just rode straight down the pipe. Spiro turned in a solid 33.4 to take the high score of the first run.
In the second run JJ Thomas rallied with a 33.5 and took the lead for a moment, however, Spiro answered back with a 33.8 and took the contest. Travis McLain finished in third.
In the women’s competition Tara Zwink was ruling early on. In the first round of the finals she scored a 25.2 and everyone thought she’d run with it. Autumn Rose had other ideas. On her final run she hooked up a 25.5 to win the contest. Kirstin Bedard finished in third with a 25.0
The American Snowboard Tour continues February 19, 1999 at Bear Mountain, California.