When Freeskiers Reign, It Pours (Lots of White Puffy Snow)

The first inaugural Winter Dew Tour is going off, and the skiers are hyped! Ski Slopestyle prelims started out with a bang, as many skiers laid down big tricks early in the 2 1⁄2 hour practice period.

Training was punctuated by brief bouts of snow, but visibility didn’t suffer and everyone got at least half a dozen runs before the start of the first heat. Excitement among the competitors was tangible as tricks were dialed in on the fresh-built jump line, and Breckenridge team rider Tanner Rainville seemed to voice the sentiments of everyone present: “The jumps are fun and the course is immaculate…I’m stoked!”

Amidst the frenzy of switch spins and double flips skiers were throwing in training, a handful of athletes seemed more comfortable than the rest on the oversized jumps; PK Hunder, Bobby Brown, and Tuesday’s first-place qualifier Henrik Harlaut were just several of the 35 over-qualified Slopestyle skiers who stood out. The Norwegian’s runs were perhaps the most impressive, and his fusion of consistency, style, and technicality was unmatched by the rest of the field. PK’s flawless rail tricks complemented a jump line of switch right 7 mute, switch 9 nose, and his patented double cork 1080.

Equally impressive on paper but slightly less polished, Brown’s runs combined a switch right nine, a kangaroo flip, and a switch double rodeo 9. Kiwi Jossi Wells was also seen working on a run with both switch 10s and a switch double cork 10, which he landed with varying success.

As practice drew to a close, the weather took a turn for the worse when flurries gave way to a full-fledged Colorado blizzard. Spurred by low light and fast falling flakes, some of the skiers resorted to more basic and stylish runs, leading competitor Sean Decker to ruminate that “while fashion may go out of style, style never goes out of fashion”. Spirits remained high despite the snow, but no amount of steez could quell the rising wind, and the jumps soon became unhittable. Nevertheless, Anders Backe, Phil Casabon, and JF Houle all landed impressive first runs before the event was postponed due to weather. A riders-meeting convened at 5:00 pm, and it was decided that a one-run Prelim on Saturday morning will determine the top-12 to compete in Saturday’s final. Stay tuned for more Winter Dew Tour updates!