|ESPN.com: Snowboarding||[Print without images]|
|The pipe at Buttermilk is the picture of perfection yet again.|
It's on in Aspen. Winter X 14 is underway.
There are still a couple days until the judges start handing out scores, but the riders are already out on hill, warming it up. Last night was the first round of Superpipe practice and today the Slopestyle course was open and ready to rip.
A couple dozen shreds showed up for pipe practice under the lights and most kept it pretty safe. There was the occasional 720, the odd 900 and maybe even a 1080, but the double cork was nowhere to be seen. That's sure to change when everyone is watching. But will the looming Olympics keep riders from really putting it down? Will they sit on their hammers or can we expect to see everything they've got? Swiss pipe slayer Iouri Podladtchikok, aka I-Pod, is predicting "lots of double flips."
"People can expect Olympic runs for sure," said Podladtchikov. "And maybe even more, because it's longer than the Olympic pipe."
How's that for some pre-game hype?
The mood was pretty mellow on the Slopestyle course, too, with all in attendance doing their best just to get a feel for the line. The consensus seemed to be that the rail section at the top of the course is pretty tight and takes a little getting used to. As for the jumps, most agreed that they're good to go--not too big, but poppy enough to really put you up. Most of the guys were going for it and seemed at ease on the course. A lot of the girls were taking it easy, with most saying they were pretty intimidated. There's only one lip on each jump this year, meaning there's no women's tee, so the girls are going to have to ante up. Chanelle Sladics had one word for the Slopestyle course: "Intense."
"I think the most challenging things is going to be the jumps for sure," said Sladics. "They're really tight and poppy and they're really close together."
The riders have a couple more days to get dialed in. There's another round of pipe practice tonight and a lot more warm-up laps to fit in. With the level of contest riding we've seen so far this season, this is setting up to be the most progressive Winter X yet. Stay tuned and see for yourself.