Finch to fly at Vans Cup |

Finch to fly at Vans Cup

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunTruckee's Andy Finch airs out of the pipe during the 48Straight competition at Squaw Valley on Feb. 11. Finch will compete this weekend in the Vans Cup at Northstar.

Andy Finchs shoulder is a little banged up from dropping a 60-foot cliff in the Tahoe backcountry Tuesday. Not to worry, he said the body part is not vital enough to stop him from challenging gravity to the best of his ability at the fourth annual Vans Cup.No predictions yet, but I definitely plan to put on a show for the crowd, the 26-year-old Truckee snowboarder said of Sundays superpipe contest at Northstar.Finch, a halfpipe specialist and 2006 Olympian whos made a name for himself by way of sheer amplitude, said he also plans to compete in Saturdays slopestyle competition.Hell do so on limited pipe- and park-specific training of late after filming with Nation Foundation the past several days. In fact, Finch said he has not been to a resort since placing second to Louie Vito at the 48Straight superpipe contest at Squaw Valley on Feb. 11.Finch is not concerned, as the Northstar-sponsored rider will be competing on his home turf, and those bumps and bruises like the one hes nursing go hand-in-hand with the sport. Especially for Finch, who missed most of last season with a badly dislocated wrist, and has struggled through many injuries during his career. Ive got to make sure Im healthy. Im not going to chuck my body unless Im feeling strong. But (going big) is always my goal, and I try to stick with it, Finch said, alluding to the high-flying display he has planned for Sunday.With an impressive list of top-tier riders confirmed including Vito, Danny Kass, Mason Aguirre, and Truckees Chas Guldemond, to name only a few Finch knows hell have his work cut out for him. He also knows that judging, like every contest, will play a major role in deciding the outcome.For example, in 2005, the last year Finch competed in the Vans Cup, he placed second to Kass. Upon the announcement, a few boos rang out from the crowd gathered at the base of the pipe. On his best run, Finch had boosted higher than Kass, as well as everyone else in the competition. But Kass also put together a fine run worthy of a top score.Same thing at the 48Straight contest, when Finch again went all out only to place second to Vito. He didnt complain, though, conceding that the judges decision was hard to argue.We just have two different styles, he said of Vito and himself. Judging could go either way. Sometimes its in my favor and sometimes its not. I think (Vito) had a cleaner run than I did.While Finch has narrowly missed first place in a number of competitions over the years, he also has more than his share of top finishes. Most recently, he earned one of the biggest wins of his career in the halfpipe at the O’Neill Evolution in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 5. The event was part of the Swatch TTR World Snowboard Tour, in which Finch is currently ranked fourth. This year Ive been focused on the TTR events, Finch said. Ever year I set a new goal.Competing against the worlds best snowboarders, Finch also is accustomed to disappointment. In the X Games last month, he crashed in the qualifier and did not advance to the finals. His frustration was evident as he cruised down the middle of the pipe to the bottom.I was definitely bummed, he said. Just being injured the past two years before, I wanted to come back strong. Plus it was the first halfpipe comp I didnt qualify for in like eight years. I just wasnt mentally focused.When it comes to competitions, Finch said he prefers more laid-back contests such as the Vans Cup, although the grand stage of the X Games has its draw. The Vans Cup is way more fun, but the X Games is good for my career, he said, adding that he enjoys the sunny weather and soft snow conditions typical of his home mountain range.According to the National Weather Service, Sunday should feature a little freshly fallen snow from the previous morning and sunny skies. Just as Finch likes it.

Finch will be signing autographs at a Clif Bar booth at the Vans Cup on Saturday.

Friday:5-6:45 p.m., rail jam Saturday:8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m., mens and womens slopestyle qualifying 11:30 a.m.3 p.m., mens and womens slopestyle finalsSunday:9 a.m.-noon, mens and womens superpipe qualifying 12:30 p.m.-4 p.m., mens and Womens superpipe finals

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