Come this February, free-skiing's addition to the Olympic lineup in Sochi, Russia, will bring to the mainstream a sport that has until now existed in the shadows at the sides of the slopes. That means there will be Olympic gold medals at stake in halfpipe and slopestyle, and twin-tipped skis will finally become recognized tools of bona fide Olympians. If there's one free-skier who will capture the hearts and minds of American audiences, it's almost certainly the athlete who put halfpipe skiing on the map in the first place: Simon Dumont.
An X Games mainstay in the halfpipe since he was 15 years old, Dumont is now a 27-year-old veteran with a bucketful of X Games golds to his name. He's largely seen as the godfather of the sport, and was instrumental in the push to get free-skiing and the half pipe into the Olympics. Now, he's in New Zealand recovering from a series of brutal injuries to his ankle and wrists on an accelerated timeline in order to get healthy in time for the Olympics.
"I'm just going to go one step at a time," Dumont says of his chances of competing in the Olympics. "I'm confident, and I've always performed when I've needed to perform. This is the one event that I haven't podiumed in my life, and it's something I want bad." To get us warmed up for the coming Olympic games, Dumont gave 'Men's Journal' a crash course in the art and intricacies of the halfpipe, as well as an insider's view into what to expect at Sochi. Here's what he had to say.
Scoring is pretty subjective.
There are three factors that the international panel of judges use to decide who will ultimately mount the podium: technicality, style, and overall impression. If those aspects sound somewhat nebulous and subjective, that's because, well, as with any sport that includes subjective elements, they are. Thus, while technicality is relatively straightforward for judges to score – "That means the doubles, the amount of spins, innovation, new tricks, things like that," Dumont explains – it isn't the only factor. Scoring may swing wildly depending on the preferences of judges. "The overall impression is the biggest thing," Dumont says. "Top to bottom, do you have everything in the package? Even in the flat bottom, are you skiing in control? Are you in front of your boots? Are you back seat? Top to bottom, did you have everything needed to complete a halfpipe run?"
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