By Patrick Crawford
Just back in the office this morning after three days in Steamboat for the Ultimate Bumps and Jumps. The eight-man invite list was insane – Simon Dumont, Rory Bushfield, Candide Thovex, CR Johnson, Peter Olenick, Pep Fujas, Henrik Windstedt and TJ Schiller.
After a heated day of competition on Friday, including a “free” moguls competition and a big air, TJ came out ahead of the crew. He took home $11,500 for his spot atop the podium. By the way, that spot also came with a bottle of sparkling cider, which TJ thought was champagne as he tried to down the whole thing in one shot. CR Johnson scored $5,000 to give to the charity of his choice for winning the athlete’s vote. As of Friday, wolves in Alaska were at the top of his charitable list.
The Ultimate Bumps and Jumps event actually had two disciplines: big air and “free” moguls. The athletes hit up the big air in the morning, broke for lunch, then competed in duals-style in the moguls all afternoon.
TJ won the morning’s big air event and Dumont was the king of the afternoon comp, beating out the field mainly on his insane speed through the moguls. But, TJ had enough points in his coffer from the morning big air to win the overall title.
Friday morning’s big air was mostly 9s, cab 9s and cab 7s. CR stepped up with bio 12s, but the jump was relatively small, and the competition somewhat non-descript, except that TJ came out with the lead.
The mogul showdown, however, was definitely a different show. The airs on the bottom hit were the same 9s and cab 9s and 7s, but everyone’s steeze and speed in the moguls (or lack thereof) really separated the skiers. The competition was head-to-head, the winner of each moving on and the loser out of the running. Since they ran enough duals to sort out every single finishing place, it was hard to keep track of what was going down. By the end, my notes looked like the reasoning section of the SAT. If Simon is better than Pep, and Pep beat TJ, who beat Rory, is TJ better than Rory?
Henrik definitely has the best bump skiing of the crew, and would have won the comp except that he lost it off of the flat-down rail in the semifinals, missed a section of bumps and got the boot into the losers bracket. The joke was that Dumont’s skiing was fueled by anger — skiing ultra-fast, right at the edge of control all day — but he held his agression in check just enough to win. It was odd to see Candide rocking Rossi’s after all these years, but it didn’t bother him. Candide thrashed the bumps as well, throwing switch 180s on the mogul air, but he got booted eventually as well.
In case you were wondering, yes, the event was originally supposed to be a superpipe and mogul comp. However, Steamboat failed to blow enough snow to get the pipe going, so they tried to switch to a quarter, which also didn’t work, and actually had skiers hit a hip during training. But the skiers flatly refused to compete on the hip, so in the end it was big air and moguls.
The full final finishing order is:
1) TJ Schiller
2) Simon Dumont
3) Henrik Windstedt
4) CR Johnson
5) Peter Olenick
6) Pep Fujas
7) Candide Thovex
8) Rory Bushfield
If you want to see the event, check it out on CBS on December 26.