By Colin Bane – There’s not a sport anywhere that has seen a rate of progression to rival freeskiing: The halfpipes keep getting bigger, the slopestyle courses keep getting sicker, and the rocket scientists who make the skis keep getting spacier and spacier. As for the skiers themselves? Let’s just say they’re all a little nuts. Case in point: At the end of last season, Simon Dumont stuck a picture-perfect 1260 in the pipe in his second Finals run at NorthStar and lost to Tanner Hall. Seems a nearly perfect score of 92.50 just doesn’t cut it when your competitor can see your 1260 and raise you a 900 on the next wall, head straight into an alley-oop flat spin 360 Japan air, then follow it up with a switch 900 grab, wowing the judges to the tune of 93.75 points to take the win and claim the inaugural Dew Cup.
Third place overall finisher Justin Dorey’s double flip in the pipe at NorthStar is another sign of things to come, and rest assured there’s more to come: Although this week is the first stop of the 2009/2010 Winter Dew Tour, all of the top riders have been training all summer at places like Mt. Hood and Mammoth Mountain, and on the other side of the world in New Zealand. Doubles are now de rigeur, and now that everybody’s been working out over trampolines, foam pits, and air bags - not to mention taking their freeskiing skills out into the backcountry - there’s no telling what might be next on the horizon.
Watch for another head-to-head in the halfpipe between Dumont, Dorey, and West this time around - those three finished in the top 5 last season and will be back with some fireworks to light it up again - but the slopestyle competition might be even more exciting, with a wide open field of competitors and a constantly changing podium lineup. Last year Per-Kristian Hunder managed to ski away with the Dew Cup without a single event win on the tour. In fact, nobody in the top three overall standings - Hunder, Alexis Godbout, Jossi Wells - had a win to their name. Watch for doubles and double corks from these guys too, plus all kinds of insanity on the rails. Just about every decent resort in America has a perfectly insane terrain park these days, and all of the top jibbers have also been out on the town rocking urban night missions that help inspire their competition runs.
All three will be back for more, fighting for a Dew Cup and fending off challenges from the rest of the field and a bunch of thirsty young rippers on the rise. If you want to see something go down that will blow your mind - or if you’re one of those action sports sickos who likes to see dudes go down hard in the attempt - then Men’s Freeski Slopestyle is the sport for you.
The action kicks off this week at Breckenridge for the Totino’s Open, December 17-20.