In 2006, when Mono SkierX made its debut on Buttermilk Mountain, Tyler Walker took gold. Last year, KJ van der Klooster knocked him off the podium. Sunday afternoon, though, Walker regained his top dog status on a snow-slowed X Course that made things tough on the competitors.
Even more impressive than Walker's win is how he did it, after missing all of the training and sessions because of a race in Europe.
Q: You barely had a chance to look at this thing before the competition, right?
A: I got one quick slip before we ran, and that's it. I watched as much video of it as I could, but didn't have much to go on. It showed me where people were landing on the biggest hits. That's key for a monoskier, because we really can't absorb very much at all. It did help, but I didn't know what it was going to be like until I ran it.
Q: Were the conditions different today than what you saw on the video?
A: They didn't seem to change much. But it was slow today. The S turns and through the gap jumps, that was really slow. I had to almost skate to try and get through it. But everyone was struggling. We can't generate speed unless it's through gravity.
Q: When you can't get a look at a course until it's basically race time, how much more of a challenge is that as a skier?
A: We train for that. I just came from some World Cup races in Italy, and we get a short inspection and then we've got to run it. We need to know where we're going. I inspected this one as best as I could, and tried to commit it to memory. I had to think fast and react fast, and I train for that. So I was ready for it.
Q: There were a lot of wrecks on the course, but overall it seemed like as a group the mono skiers were more aggressive. A lot of guys hit that last kicker.
A: The more we get to run it, the more confident we get. We know where we need to go slow, where we need to go fast, how much we need to pop each jump. But in the end, a lot of it is just blind faith. Especially that last jump.