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Intel Men’s Snowboard SuperPipe Final – X Games 2016

Held in Aspen, Colorado, the Intel Men’s X Games Snowboard SuperPipe competition on January 30th, 2016 provided audience members everywhere with a profound spectacle of world class half-pipe snowboarding. The level of airborne acrobatics present in this SuperPipe final were truly an incredible sight overall, with riders clearing as much as twenty feet over the lip of the half-pipe. The amazing thing about this event was that for the men’s competition in the half-pipe on Saturday night, an intense blizzard descended upon the Aspen pipe area and forced the premature end of the contest after only one run per competitor.

In this way, the winner of the men’s 2016 SuperPipe competition gained the title through only being judged on a single run down the pipe course. While this is true, each rider’s run through the Aspen pipe was an intense and enjoyable demonstration of skill that pipe snowboarders everywhere enjoyed especially for how the intense snowstorm added to the excitement factor. In order to further inform anyone interested in finding out more about the Men’s X Games Aspen 2016 SuperPipe event, a summary of the top 8 qualifying snowboarders and their performances at the event is going to be shared here:

1st Place – GOLD – Matt Ladley

Taking home the gold this year at the Men’s SuperPipe competition at Aspen’s X Games was Matt Ladley, a Steamboat Springs native who truly killed it this year at the pipe comp with a score of 82.33. His gold medal winning run that earned him so much respect from longtime fans and newcomers to the sport as well was packed full of high level tricks and maneuvers which Ladley executed quite effortlessly overall. He had no sketchy landings or wipeouts during his run at the competitions, despite the fact that during his run the snow storm was already kicking into high gear and he had to deal with compromised visibility. Although all of the riders in the men’s SuperPipe competition had to deal with the snow, Ladley was the one rider who was still pushing himself to go big in spite of the harsh conditions.

One of his biggest trick combos during his run at the Aspen X Games pipe section was a method grab back into the pipe before launching back out again into a massive frontside 1080. The frontside 1080 from Matt Ladley was definitely up there with the most spectacular and amazing sights from 2016’s X Games men’s SuperPipe competition, and in light of this trick being landed so fluidly by Matt Ladley in the pipe it is no surprise that he ended up the winner of the entire men’s SuperPipe contest. Matt’s airs were so consistent this year that it was hard not to marvel at how easily he seemed to be throwing into his admittedly huge spins and complex tricks.

2nd Place – SILVER – Ben Ferguson

Ben Ferguson ended up taking the second place silver at the men’s 2016 X Games SuperPipe contest, and he is a highly skilled rider from Bend, Oregon. Riding since he was just six years old, Ben is a seasoned snowboarder who brought a lot to the men’s SuperPipe at the 2016 Aspen X Games finishing with a judged score of 79.00. Many people had high expectations for Ben going into the contest, and though he did not take the gold as many had predicted he did end up with silver which is still a significant accomplishment for any athlete competing at this level.

Executing a frontside 1080 at the end of his run, just as Matt Ladley did to take home the gold, Ben Ferguson was extremely close to winning the entire contest. Ben also landed an impressive double cork which helped to solidify his second place finish at the Aspen SuperPipe men’s contest. Ben Ferguson’s performance was distinct in that he is very unique in his riding style. He rides with a level of board control that few other competitors can match, and this is evident in his daring tricks which he rarely ever makes a mistake on. The silver was a well deserved finish for Ben Ferguson this year based on the excellent run he put down at the 2016 X Games men’s Aspen SuperPipe.

3rd Place – BRONZE – Scotty James

At third place with a score of 76.00 for the 2016 Aspen men’s SuperPipe competition, Scotty James had another impressive run with some amazing maneuvers. 2016 Aspen marked Scotty’s fourth X Games appearance, and he brought everything he had to the SuperPipe contest. Scotty James managed to get five good hits in on the half-pipe during his run, and the best trick he had by far was a frontside 1080 double cork while grabbing stalefish. For those who do not yet know, what it means to grab stalefish is to grab the board in between the bindings with the back hand for an advanced grab posturing. By using a stalefish configuration in his frontside 1080 double cork, Scotty James was able to tuck quite low into his spin and get a massive air above the lip.

During his run, Scotty had an average height above the pipe of about fifteen feet, so while this is not the highest of any competitor at the 2016 Aspen men’s SuperPipe contest it is still a big air. Scotty’s performance allowed him to at least take home a medal, even if it was bronze. For a competitor like Scotty James to get the bronze medal is always great in terms of getting endorsements and being invited back to future competitions. While watching James at the 2016 Aspen SuperPipe event, it was clear to everyone there and watching at home that he is an athlete who is quite comfortable in his element.

4th Place – Brett Esser

In fourth place at the 2016 Aspen men’s SuperPipe competition was Brett Esser. Though Esser gave a spirited performance at the SuperPipe contest, it was clear that he was not quite as good as the top three podium riders. While Brett seemed to be hitting a lot of his tricks, his speed and intensity simply were not on the same level as the top three contest finishers. He did not have the ability to throw his spins and grabs with nearly as much velocity as the top three riders, but he still gave a great performance at the contest. Esser is someone who has a great air sense when they are throwing tricks out of the pipe, and as long as he continues to work on his speed and power he is likely to get even better as a snowboarding athlete.

The SuperPipe at Aspen 2016 X Games was not particularly forgiving to any of the competitors, and this is especially true since the snow was coming down extremely hard during the men’s portion of the SuperPipe finals. Brett ended up receiving a judges score of 66.66, so he was a whole point away from the bronze winner, Scotty James. The whole point margin separating the top three podium riders from the rest of the finishers is a clear sign that the top three snowboarders in this competition are highly skilled athletes. However, Brett Esser is definitely someone to watch in terms of riders who are going places in the world of high level snowboarding due to having his own signature style and sense of confidence while riding.

5th Place – Gabe Ferguson

Gabe Ferguson is another snowboarder who really killed it at the 2016 men’s SuperPipe event, and at 5th place Gabe is still a competitor who can challenge today’s top ranks of elite snowboarders. With clean, smooth spins and colossal airs and grabs, Gabe Ferguson is a highly competent rider who rivals his brother Ben Ferguson in terms of skill and style. When one watches Gabe and Ben Ferguson, it becomes possible to see commonalities in their style which make it easy to see how the two are brothers who train together for snowboarding events. Both of the Ferguson brothers have a kind of effortless style, and this is one of the most significant factors in them being so effective in the SuperPipe.

Given that the massive half-pipe at the Aspen 2016 X Games was so incredibly large, it is important for riders to have a high level of confidence or it becomes possible for them to lose control while out over the lip in mid-air which can potentially result in catastrophic injury. Gabe makes sailing fifteen feet up above the lip of the half-pipe look amazingly easy, though anyone who has any real experience on a snowboard knows that it is not an easy or calm experience to launch so powerfully out of a giant half-pipe. Gabe Ferguson’s performance at the 2016 men’s Aspen X Games SuperPipe contest was a great addition to the overall group of riders and their respective performances during the competition. With a judges score of 60.33, Gabe definitely brought his A game to the table at the Aspen 2016 men’s SuperPipe contest.

6th Place – Jan Scherrer

Jan Scherrer looked very confident and well prepared during this men’s SuperPipe competition, and this is well substantiated by the fact that he finished the contest in sixth place with a judges score of 57.33. He wasn’t throwing nearly as high as the elite competitors in the contest, but he was averaging over ten feet which is good for any professional SuperPipe rider. Jan was one snowboarder in particular who it appeared like he was still developing his style in the pipe, even though his skills are already quite well evolved. Utilizing a series of grabs and spinning maneuvers, Jan Scherrer effectively gave the fans exactly what they were looking for.

He came to have fun and give it everything he had, and this was clear to anyone watching Jan at the SuperPipe contest in Aspen on January 30th, 2016. Sixth place certainly seems fair for Jan’s 57.33 performance, mainly in the context of how mind blowing the top three competitor’s runs were who deserved significantly higher scores. While Jan Scherrer’s performance only earned him sixth, it probably also earned him more invitations to other snowboarding competitions and potential endorsements. These are critically important things for a professional snowboarder to obtain, so it is safe to say that Jan had a good outcome from X Games Aspen 2016.

7th Place – Taku Hiraoka

Taku Hiraoka left everything out on the half-pipe on January 30th, 2016 at the men’s SuperPipe Aspen X Games finals. Hiraoka is virtually always an exciting competitor to observe in any riding style, but SuperPipe is one of the best places to see true excellence from Taku. Although this is usually true, there was enough minor faltering during Hiraoka’s run to compromise his position in the rankings to seventh place with a judges score of 57.00. With some big frontside spins and backside cork maneuvers, Taku’s run had a lot to offer everyone interested in the competition from spectators, to judges, to other fellow snowboarders. His was truly a big crowd pleasing run, without enough individualized style to genuinely deserve a better overall ranking at the end of the competition.

For a snowboarder to actually deserve to make it onto the podium with bronze, silver, or gold, it is critical that they develop their own sense of style so that a rider does not simply look like “everyone else” while hitting the SuperPipe. This is one thing that many high level snowboarders get weary about, since being repetitive or seeming bland in one’s selection of tricks and maneuvers can end up ruining what is otherwise an impressive run. With a little bit more focus on distinguishing his snowboarding style, Taku Hiraoka is on his way to becoming a top tier professional snowboarder.

8th Place – Christian Haller

In eighth place at the 2016 men’s Aspen X Games SuperPipe competition was Christian Haller, and while his performance was somewhat bland compared to the top three snowboarders he still gave a great effort in the SuperPipe. Again, whenever anyone is analyzing the results of the men’s 2016 SuperPipe contest it is critical to always factor in the intense snow storm when looking at a rider’s score.

Christian Haller scored an even 50.00 at the 2016 X Games Aspen SuperPipe, which is a great top 8 score for Haller to receive since everything below his 8th place scoring of 50.00 is well below such a mark. The nearest score under Christian Haller’s 50.00 is a 40.33 in 9th place, so it is clear that Haller’s score represents a clear deviation in skill level and rider rank. Christian’s contribution to the 2016 Aspen X Games SuperPipe event was an important one, and many people got to see him showcasing his favorite tricks.

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