A proud member of Team USA, David Wise will be competing in Sochi at the 2014 Winter Games. To stay up on the latest from David and the other Dew Tour athletes, check out NBCOlympics.com.
With the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships being named an Olympic selection event, in addition to the first-ever inclusion of freeski into the 2014 Winter Olympics, the athletes were no holds barred at the Men's Freeski Superpipe Final. The event took place under bright lights with a heavy crowd at the foot of the pipe keeping the riders warm with the warm roars of excitement.
Like the qualifier, a stacked roster of 14 freeskiers -- following falls by both Torin Yater-Wallace and Simon Dumont during practice right before the final, leaving them injured -- had two opportunities to throw down a run toward a win, and a spot on the inaugural U.S. Olympic Freeskiing Team.
During the first round of runs we saw some serious tricks pulled, but unfortunately we also saw some serious competitors come up short -- one rider we watched do both. Gus Kenworthy came into the night’s event in 13th place, but everyone, from the riders to the judges and the crowd alike, knew he had it in him to take home the win. On Kenworthy’s first run he went huge with a right 1080 tailgrab into a switch 1080 and an alley-oop flat 540 -- his run was shaping up to be the best yet, but then on his final hit he slipped out on a double cork 1080 while nearly running out of pipe.
The view from the base of the 600-foot superpipe
Kenworthy came back into his second run knowing it was all or nothing, but to his demise, he fell victim to the exact same fate as his first run -- he slipped out on his final wall attempting a double cork 1080 at the end of the 600-foot halfpipe -- currently the longest halfpipe in use anywhere in the world. Kenworthy made the comment that he, “hardly ever skies pipe, I’m definitely a slope guy.” This we know is true, and although he qualified in the final bubble spot for slopestyle everyone is expecting big things from him in the final, which will be broadcast live Sunday at 12pm ET on NBC and on DewTour.com/LIVE.
Next into the pipe following Kenworthy was Lyman Currier. Currier was able to make a full-pull in the pipe on his first run, but there was definite room for improvement. For his second run, Currier came in hot and switch riding with as much speed as he could carry before blasting a switch 720 that lead him into an alley-oop flat 540, then he threw a double cork 1260 that directed him into a right 900 and then a left 900 before finishing it off with a alley-oop flat 720. This run reaped him a score of 87.00 placing him in second just behind David Wise.
“This pipe is too perfect! Dew Tour always does a great job,” said Currier following his final run. Currier continued to speak to the atmosphere of the event and competing under the lights. “It’s so surreal. I remember watching these guys and looking up to them. Now being under the lights and riding here with them, it’s amazing! I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Wise was still to drop for his second run where he would better his own score in order to leave nothing to chance knowing that the final three to ride could bring in a top score of their own. Well, Wise did not disappoint. With more speed and amplitude, Wise’s second run upped his score to a staggering 92.60 that would maintain as the top score for the remainder of the event. Wise dropped in with a switch right 900 into switch left double cork 1260, to a switch double cork 1080 into a right double cork 1260, to a left double cork 1260 into an alley-oop flat spin 540 and topped if off with a cab 900.
Going into the final run, Wise was in first place, but he's all about refining his runs.
"I landed a solid first run, but felt I had room to improve, so I threw in an extra double and was able to put it down. It wasn't my perfect run, but battled through it and got all the way to the bottom. I'm stoked!"
With this victory, Wise garnered the elusive 100 points that goes toward qualifying for the U.S. Olympics. "It's amazing," said Wise about being one step closer to Sochi. "You can't start a season any better than that."
Still left to drop was the 17-year-old Aaron Blunck who had been on a roll this week. Blunk’s final run was more than impressive and included a right double cork 1260 critical grab right out of the gate, a left 1080 tail grab, a switch right 720 mute grab, an alley-oop 540 critical grab, a right 1080 stale grab and a switch left 720 Japan to cap it off. Blunck’s run earned him an 89.80 and the second spot overall -- not to mention the valuable USSA points toward making the U.S. Olympic Freeski Team.
“I made finals already, I couldn’t really ask for anything else. I was just going into tonight with a clear head and just wanted to do my best and the best turned out. I’m so stoked.” With regard to Blunck’s road to Sochi, “It’s a huge step. It’s the first podium. Their looking at top Americans right now, David Wise obviously killed it tonight. So yeah, I’m the second American right now. I couldn’t have asked for a better thing. For the next four I’m going to go in with a clear mindset again and just go out and ski -- just have fun.”
Canada's Mike Riddle was bumped from the podium late in the final round; however this year's Dew Tour was bittersweet.
"It's a little bit of a bummer not being on the podium, but I'm stoked because I just secured my spot with that run, so I couldn't be happier," said Riddle about qualifying for the Olympics. "The rest of the season I'm going to work on my Olympic run and dial in my tricks."
1st Place - David Wise
2nd Place – Aaron Blunck
3rd Place - Lyman Currier
4th Place – Mike Riddle
5th Place – Beau-James Wells
6th Place- Kyle Smaine
7th Place – Simon d’Artois
8th Place – Kevin Rolland
9th Place – Taylor Seaton
10th Place – Noah Bowman
11th Place – Broby Leeds
12th Place – Alexander Ferreira
13th Place – Gus Kenworthy
14th Place – Justin Dorey
DNS – Torin Yater-Wallace
DNS – Simon Dumont