One of the biggest questions entering this season: is this the year that a changing of the guard might take place in women's snowboard superpipe?
With Chloe Kim unable to compete at last week's Grand Prix event in Copper due to age restrictions, Dew Tour will provide the first opportunity for the snowboard world to see how far she's progressed since last year against her veteran peers. On a day where so many ladies where shredding hard in the women’s snowboard superpipe semifinal, Kim was one of the best – at one point holding the lead after the first set of runs and setting the stage for Saturday's showdown in the final against many of the usual suspects. But once again, it was Kelly Clark topping the standings in this round when all was said and done.
The semifinal brought together 16 of the top ladies in the world, each taking two runs for the right to move on to the final. The top five were automatically advanced, but that wasn't the end of the contest by any means.
The next eight ladies in the rankings then took part in a last chance qualifier – an all-or-nothing opportunity to take one more run through the pipe. Scores from the semifinal were dropped, and only the rider with the highest LCQ score would earn the last spot in the final.
Semifinal Moment of Truth:
Heading into her final run of the semifinal, Arielle Gold sat in sixth place – just one spot behind the cutoff line to automatically advance to the final. In order to avoid a trip to LCQ, the Colorado native laid down a heavy run, which included a frontside 900, to move atop the leaderboard – albeit temporarily – and guarantee herself a spot in the final.
LCQ Moment of Relief:
Hannah Teter made the same mistake on both of her semifinal runs – washing out on a backside 900 on the last hit of the superpipe. Thanks to the LCQ, Teter received a third and final chance to put her full run together, and she did just that. It wasn't instant gratification though – Teter was one of the first riders to drop, meaning she had to watch as six more ladies attempted to knock her out of the top spot. When Sophie Rodriguez went down in her LCQ run, the contest was officially a wrap, and Teter found herself in the final.
With most riders opting to save their biggest tricks for the finals, linking together 720 variations was a staple part of the run for many of today's competitors. Aside from that, Arielle Gold landed a frontside 900 in her final run, and Elena Hight nailed alley-oop backside rodeos at the end of both of her runs. Hannah Teter needed three attempts and an LCQ appearance to get her last-hit backside 900, but it propelled her into the final.
In her first contest appearance of the season, Chloe Kim briefly held the lead with the following run combination: backside air, frontside 540, McTwist, crippler 720, cab 720, frontside air.
Quote of the Day:
Even with all the expectations surrounding her this season, Chloe Kim is staying grounded. So, what was it like for the 14-year-old to hold the lead over the likes of 31-year-old Kelly Clark and others? “It was pretty cool, but I don’t really care about that stuff. I just want to make sure I get a good run.”
*Top 5 advance to the final
*Top 1 advances to the final
Women’s Snowboard Superpipe Final:
Watch the final this Saturday, December 13th at 11 a.m. ET on DewTour.com/LIVE and the NBC Sports Live Extra app.