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The Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships kicked off an intense Olympic season for freeski athletes who are competing for the chance to make the inaugural U.S. Freeskiing team and represent America during their sport's debut in Sochi.
With the event officially being named the first of five USSA-sanctioned Olympic selection events this season, the stakes were incredibly high this week as seasoned vets and young sensations battled it out in the pipe and on the slope, in the hopes of earning valuable USSA-points.
Some athletes rose to the occasion, while others succumbed to the pressure. Read on below for a brief recap of freeski's final events. For the complete story, check out the full recap (links below).
The lights shined bright on Breck's 600-foot superpipe, as the stacked roster of 14 freeskiers dropped in to showcase their run. The dynamic was different from the qualifier, as Veteran Simon Dumont and young ripper Torin Yater-Wallace, who qualified first with a show-stopping run, were unable to compete in the final due to injuries. The first round unraveled slowly and somewhat uneventfully. But, during the second round, with valuable USSA-selection points on the line, some riders stepped up while other riders washed out.
Aaron Blunck, 17-year-old from Crested Butte, Colorado, stomped an impressive second run, which included a massive right double cork 1260 critical grab on the first hit, earning him the second place slot. But it was David Wise who ultimately stole the show. Wise who put down a solid first run, wanted to leave nothing to chance with his second. Going bigger and faster, Wise put down a staggering 92.60 in his second run, which would maintain as the top score for the remainder of the night.
After an intense qualifier, 8 of the world's best female freeskiers battled it out at the final. Eyes were on Angeli VanLaanen, who qualified first for the event, to bring the heat. Dropping into her second run, she would have to beat Maddie Bowman's first run score of 89.60 to overtake the lead. While she put down a solid run, it came in just .40 shy of Bowman's score.
VanLaanen was more than excited with her second run, who is finally healthy and competing at an elite level since being diagnosed in remission after a long and painful struggle with Lyme disease.
Nick Goepper came into the iON Mountain Championships no holds barred, sweeping the freeski slopestyle competitions. Showcasing his skill in both the qualifier and the final, Goepper cemented himself as a pervasive threat on the slopestyle circuit. No one was able to compete with Goepper's first run score of 93.00, which he earned without ski poles and a braced hand.
Turning 15 years old the day of the final, Maggie Voisin was determined to treat herself to a birthday podium! Given that she landed the top spot at the qualifier earlier in the week, the odds were certainly in her favor to do just that. Unfortunately, Voisin's best run of the day was no match for dual-threat Devin Logan who earned the top score of 87.80.
Although Logan captured the win at Dew Tour, along with 100 valuable USSA-points, Voisin is right behind her with 80. While the riders will continue to battle it out this season, it's more than likely both will make the U.S. Freeskiing Team and compete in Sochi this February.