Local skier Torin Yater-Wallace placed second to reigning champion David Wise in the elimination round for the men’s skiing superpipe at the Winter X Games on Thursday.
The event features skiers hucking themselves up and down a 567-foot-long superpipe with 22-foot-high walls. The 16 skiers had two runs to score high enough to earn one of eight top spots and advance to the finals. The final competition will be held today beginning at 8:45 p.m.
During Thursday’s elimination round, the 17-year-old Yater-Wallace, who lives in Basalt, landed a high score of 90 on his first run earning him first place. He held the top spot up until the competition’s final run, when Wise, who was in third place at the time, surprised the X Games crowd with a score of 92.
Still, Yater-Wallace’s strong performance out of the gate was enough to impress the small crowd at the base of the superpipe and the announcers, who cheered his efforts.
“It’s like he’s saying ‘I’m local, this is my pipe, I’ve got two medals and I’m looking for a third,’” the announcer said after Yater-Wallace’s run.
In the past two years, Yater-Wallace has taken third and second place respectively in the men’s superpipe. Wise won a gold medal in the 2012 Winter X Games, which was the first time he made the podium.
Local favorite Alex Ferreira, who qualified to compete at the X Games for the first time last week, came close to earning a top spot. While his first run was a throw away, he pulled big, clean tricks on his second lap. On his last jump he reached an unprecedented 18.1 feet of height off of the superpipe, but he missed the landing. Had he landed the jump, he would have won a top spot in the finals, said the announcer after the run. The fact that he almost nailed it proves that Ferreira will be an athlete to follow in future X Games competitions, he said.
“We can’t wait to see what he pulls in the future,” the announcer said.
Ferreira, an 18-year-old senior at Aspen High School, qualified for the X Games after he won first place in a halfpipe competition at the North Face Park and Pipe Open Series in Whistler.
Other skiers who made the finals include Crested Butte local Aaron Blunck and X Games gold medalist Kevin Rolland. Four-time X Games gold medalist Simon Dumont also made it to the finals, despite having to compete without ski poles due to an injury. Meanwhile, ski legend Tanner Hall, who has won seven X Games gold medals, landed two clean runs, but his scores fell short of qualifying for the finals. (See related story, page 22.)