Dew Tour is back in Breckenridge for the ninth consecutive season, but this year they have reimagined Slopestyle and reinvented the format to fit their program.
In short, jibs and jumps will be ridden and scored separately, before being combined to make the overall Slopestyle score. As a result, a completely new approach for athletes to ensure they standout from their competitors.
Hearing from head snowboard judge Tom Zikas, in response to the major changes in new format, judges will be looking for a heightened emphasis on execution. Though execution has always been an important criteria in past events, this year with rails and jumps separated the judges expect to see riders focussed on effortless delivery. Whether it is off the jumps or on the jibs, judges will be looking for smooth, controlled tricks from start to finish.
For many riders that means honing in on their rail game. The progression of double and triple cork variations in Slopestyle has clutched the attention of the industry in recent years, which has in turn become the focal points for most runs in contests. Now, with jumps being judged independently of the rails, athletes are expecting rail runs to enter the spotlight.
"I think separating the jumps and the rails is going to bring a whole new level on the rails," says seasoned Slopestyle veteran, Sebastien Toutant, a.k.a. Seb Toots. "Of course, the jumps have been going off for the past couple years, but I think now the level of rails will go higher."
Seb has a reputation for his rail skills, and with the format changes he should be positioned well for continued success.
However, for other riders this change in format may prove as an all-new opportunity to shine. Take Eric Beauchemin for example. Beauchemin won the inaugural Dew Tour Streetstyle event in 2012 that focusses entirely on creative jibbing, but across six appearances in Dew Tour Slopestyle his best result has been 10th place.
"I think people will get really creative with their jib riding," guesses Beauchemin. "I think you will see people going for their hardest tricks... Not just spinning on and spinning off, but getting more technical. I think it is going to be really cool to watch."
Whatever these new changes bring, the buzz on the hill is nothing short of excitement to see how Dew Tour's fresh format will offer a much needed competitive facelift.
Seb said it best, "It might be the best contest ever or it might have a couple tweaks to make in the future, but I think snowboarding needs some change--especially for contests."