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Saturday, March 3, 2012
Updated: March 4, 8:35 PM ET
Sun's out, guns out: Grand Prix pipe

By Nate Deschenes
ESPN.com

Louie Vito
Louie Vito takes home his second title of the season.
Grand Prix Slopestyle Grand Prix Halfpipe Ski coverage

Once again, due to crazy weather delaying the Grand Prix in Mammoth this week, qualifications and finals for the snowboard halfpipe event went down in one big condensed day today. With most of the European and Japanese contingent overseas at the Burton European Open in Switzerland this weekend, the Grand Prix was a mostly U.S.-competitor-based affair. That didn't mean the competition was any less exciting, though, as it went down in near perfect conditions and saw Louie Vito and Elena Hight take top honors, while Kaitlyn Farrington and Greg Bretz placed second in their respective fields.

"I'm so pumped," said victorious Vito. "I set out to ride consistent, so coming away with the overall Grand Prix and Dew Tour this year is pretty satisfying."

It was a sporty combo of double cork 1080s (both regular and cab) followed by a massively boned out roast beef straight air at the bottom that placed him in the top spot.

"In the end I ride for myself," said Vito of his rotational tendencies, "and I do a lot of doubles because they are fun -- straight up!"

Mammoth's hometown hero Greg Bretz chucked himself into second place with back-to-back 1080s as well as a (you guessed it) double cork 10, while Luke "Squid" Mitrani launched his way into third with a first-hit double Michalchuck, which also earned him the "best trick" award.

Elena Hight
Winter X Games Aspen 2012 halfpipe silver medalist Elena Hight takes top honors at the Grand Prix.

By the time the women's contest got underway the pipe had softened up perfectly for Elena Hight, giving her ample confidence to basically destroy that thing with a backside 9, a cab 7, and --- potentially the most stylish trick of the day: a backside alley-oop rodeo.

"I've never won a Grand Prix before so I am definitely stoked," exclaimed Hight. "The real treat today though was riding with my friends and this weather!"

With Kelly Clark and Gretchen Bleiler also overseas at the BEO this weekend, Kaitlyn Farrington and Ellery Hollingsworth stepped up to fill their spots on the podium in Mammoth. Farrington ripped, with arguably the best style, boning out a frontside 7 and an alley-oop 540 with all kinds of smooth before impressing the judges enough to take the "best trick" with a huge backside 9. Hollingsworth chose the more technical route, getting aggressive with an inverted cab 900 which placed her into third.

Tomorrow's forecast for the ski slopestyle and halfpipe of the event is calling for "hoodie, with a good chance of t-shirt." In other words: typical Mammoth. The rowdiness continues tonight with electro punks Shiny Toy Guns playing at Canyon Lodge as part of the weekend's festivities that have thus far been officially epic.