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Thursday, January 25, 2007
Updated: May 11, 2:44 PM ET
Pay The Pipe(r)

By Jeff Foss

  • Jossi Wells learned how to do 12s during today's practice (and by "learn" we mean "attempted two, stomped one"). He rose to the occasion in qualifying and stuck the trick, only to trip up on the next hit-an ally oop flatspin 5-and obliterate himself at the bottom of the tranny. Early diagnosis: a broken collarbone.

  • The hit-count spectrum begins with Simon Dumont and ends with X Games newcomer Colby West, who was the only one to squeeze eight tricks into the 525-foot long pipe. Dumont, meanwhile, threw the standard seven tricks. But big things happen to the little man when the sun goes down, and once he starts throwing finals-sized runs, expect him to barely fit in six hits.

  • Jossi Wells bends but doesn't bre ... actually, this time he may have broken.

  • Candide Thovex's performance in qualifying wasn't mind-blowing. He moved from fourth to third with a run that's nearly stock from a technical standpoint, but between his amplitude and the fact that his landings, the Frenchman still turned heads. He lands so softly from such huge airs, you'd think he was wearing padded moccasins rather than stiff, poppy pipe skis.

  • Everyone knows Tanner Hall's pipe run at this point, because he can't stop winning with it: switch cork 7 to flatspin 5 to 900 to unnatural flair (dropping the right shoulder on the left wall) to ally oop 5 to a big 10 at the bottom. If he decides he needs to increase the difficulty, look for a switch cork 9 into a switch 7 up top.

  • Riddle us this: Mike "The Eternal" Riddle, after falling about halfway down the pipe, ended up picking up enough speed for two 1080's later in his run.

    "Look at how funny his picture looks!"—Jossi Wells' little brother Byron, captivated by the Jumbotron while his brother was escorted out of the pipe with a broken collarbone.

    "I don't know, actually. I've skied maybe one month of pipe in my entire life."—Andreas Hatveit to a bewildered ski patroller wondering how he "skis backwards down that thing." The Norwegian doesn't have a pipe at his home resort and figures he's had no more than five weeks of pipe training. Total.

    "I have to be above 15 feet to get it around. But this pipe has less vert than I'm used to, which means I'm closer to the deck. If I hit the deck, I'm done."—Peter Olenick, on his breakthrough double flip that he's saving for the finals. For the record, he attributes the trick to a friend named Jack Daniels and is calling it the Whiskey Flip.

    "The most amazing thing about this X Games is just how much things have progressed in the last three weeks. From the Ski Tour to the U.S. Open to here, it's like everybody has gotten that much better. One minute people are trying to learn something, and the next minute they're throwing it down in competition right in the middle of the pipe."—TJ Schiller