- Devon O'Neil, Writer, Action Sports
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The winner of Saturday's men's ski superpipe final was no surprise: Kevin Rolland is an X Games champion, and he landed three double flips in his run.
The runner-up, however, may have been the surprise of the season: Gus Kenworthy had never finished better than 20th in a Dew Tour pipe contest, and he'd skied pipe only six days this winter before the final. To boot, he relegated Simon Dumont -- one of the premier pipe skiers in the world -- to third place.
"Too much happiness" is how Rolland described his state after landing a sensational second run, highlighted by a double flair mute grab, an unnatural double, and a double cork 1260. "I crashed on my first run -- I was not so good in my mind. So I was scared at the top of the second run. But I landed that run like I wanted, and it makes me feel confident for the X Games."
Kenworthy, a slopestyle specialist who was the ninth and last qualifier to make the pipe final, dropped in first and held the lead deep into the frigid night's second run, with the tension (and collective awe) mounting. Even when Rolland usurped him, his grin remained.
"I've had some wins, but they were all at small events," Kenworthy said. "This is by far the biggest result of my career."
Men's Freeski Superpipe Finals
1hMichael C. Wright