What better time and place than high noon at Park City for a good old fashioned Superpipe showdown? While the 2004 World Superpipe Championships featured twelve of the sport’s top athletes, the real dual was between Tanner “The Sheriff” Hall and Dave “The Outlaw” Crichton. In the end, Crichton toppled Hall with one of the highest official scores (96.2) in Superpipe history. Youngster JP Solberg finished third, followed by France’s Laurent Favre in fourth.
The format for the competition was “best of three,” and since victory (not to mention $15,000) would go to whomever could put together the single best run of the day, nobody held anything back. Had Greg Tufflemire not crashed on the massive 1260 he attempted on the first hit of his second run, for example, things could have been very different indeed. Said snowboarder Kier Dillon from the bottom of the pipe as Tufflemire spun the trick: “holy crap!”
But alas, the afternoon had Dave Crichton branded all over it. Fresh off his Superpipe victory at the U.S. Open, the kid from Ontario was looking sharp from the moment he skied out of the gate. Crichton began his run with a textbook 900, followed by his patented “Critical Spin” alley-oop flatspin 540. He then threw a cab 540 (spinning the other way) and, after setting himself up with a large alley-oop, went on to link a pair of 720s at the bottom. “That run has been in progress forever,” said Crichton afterward. “Today I mixed things up a bit with a cab 5 instead of a straight air at one point. Getting those two 720s in at the bottom is usually the hardest part, but since the pipe is so fast right now, you can carry a lot of speed.”
Tanner, meanwhile, had one more run and therefore one more chance to beat Crichton’s score. He began with a smooth 540 into an equally smooth alley-oop, setting himself up for a large 900. He linked this into an alley-oop flatspin 540, tweaked a large straight air, and laid down an alley-oop flatspin 720 at the bottom. It was enough to land him in second place with $8,000.
“You really have to pop hard in this pipe,” said Tanner. “But I think it helped me out. That was the first time I’ve really nailed the (alley-oop flatspin 720) in a pipe competition like that.” 17-year-old JP Solberg found himself on the podium (and $4,000 richer) after throwing down a run filled with flairs, inverted 900s, and alley-oop 720s. It was his first major competition finish. “I’m just stoked to be here,” he said.
Fourth place finisher Laurent Farve had the biggest air of the day: a 16-foot alley-oop halfway down the pipe. At the bottom he did a large air-to-fakie to set himself up for an impressive alley-oop flatspin 720. Favre collected $2,000, and Peter Olenick—even after a major spill on his last run—held on for fifth place and $1,000. And what now for Crichton, whose earnings are quickly approaching that of the Mormon Church? “I’m going to Vegas for prostitutes and gambling,” he joked.