TIGNES, France -- Louie Vito celebrated his birthday this week with a win in Men's Snowboard SuperPipe at X Games Tignes on Thursday, throwing four back-to-back double corks to edge out Arthur Longo on the final run of the competition.
The biggest news of the night may have been Swiss rider Iouri Podladtchikov, who finally landed the much-anticipated Cab double cork 1440 that he's dubbed the YOLO Flip, which is essentially four rotations and two flips, going into the trick switch. I-Pod, ecstatic after landing the new trick, decked out on the next hit after attempting a frontside double cork 1080 truckdriver grab. He finished fourth.
Vito significantly boosted his amplitude in his win, landing a huge frontside double cork 900 Indy grab on his first hit, into an even bigger backside double Michalchuk melon grab, frontside double cork 1080 Indy grab, Cab double cork 1080 and a corked-out frontside 540 Indy grab on his final hit.
"I pretty much just chucked the Michalchuk as hard as I could," Vito said when asked how he had pulled off the difficult trick bigger than he had in previous contests. "I tried to go as big as possible into it so if I didn't get the first flip good enough I could still put it to my feet somehow."
Longo, a French rider from nearby Les Deux Alps and the clear crowd favorite, took an early lead and held onto it for nearly the entire competition. It is his first X Games medal and his first major podium finish this season, but he's been establishing himself as an all-around rider through video parts such as the opening section of Pirate Films' 2012 video "Unique 8."
"Les Arcs is a big mountain where we have big peaks and backcountry access, but we've always had a pipe, so I always had a pipe at home," Longo said of his transition from freeriding to halfpipe. "So I've always done a bit of everything. [Movies were] something I was focused on, but with the Olympics I decided to focus on halfpipe."
Longo's opening run featured massive airs, including a Cab 1080 Indy grab, frontside 900, backside 720 tail grab, alley-oop backside rodeo 1080 frontside grab and alley-oop backside rodeo 540, posting a score of 92.0, just shy of Vito's 92.66
Japanese rider Taku Hiraoka blasted his way to the bronze medal, scoring 86.0 with a frontside 900 melon grab, backside 1080 Indy grab, Cab double cork 1080, frontside 1080 Indy and frontside 1260 tail grab.
"I'm stoked to come here and get a win and to end my season with this," Vito said after the competition, speaking to the level of progression in his third run. "It's scary, but that's what we love: It's the adrenaline rush and the fact that the sport's still evolving at a rapid rate and the fact that we're all a part of it, all of my friends I grew up riding with. It's crazy to be here and be those guys really pushing the sport."