By Adryan Roane Ritter – Lately, when Shaun White enters a snowboarding competition, all bets are off on who is to win. He’s proven himself unstoppable time and time again, regardless of whether he’s riding slopestyle or superpipe. Today though, there were a few Scandinavians who made the trip across the pond to give the boy wonder a run for his Slopestyle money, literally. In the end, Shaun braved the Scando Scare, taking home the first place trophy, with Mikkel Bang and Janne Korpi following in second and third respectively.
Despite the squally conditions that descended on Breckenridge just in time for this afternoon’s Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle Final, 12 men dropped into the course with reckless abandon. With $1.5 million up for grabs over the three-stop course of the 2008-2009 Winter Dew Tour and a stacked field of the world’s top contest riders, it was go big, go technical -- or go the f*#@ home.
The first run separated the pack out, with Mikkel Bang, Shaun White and Andreas Wiig all putting together solid runs to hold the top three spots after the first run. Finals heated up a notch from the preliminary qualifiers earlier in the day, and it was apparent that it was going to take more than a measly 900 (Sarcastic tone included) to win. More than half the field of riders had stepped it up to 1080s on at least one of the jumps.
Mikkel, just 18-years-young and out of Oslo, Norway, held the lead after first run with a smooth switch 720 into a switch backside 900 (a technical combo to say the least), finishing out with a lofted frontside 1080, which collectively earned a score of 92.33. Shaun White, ruefully bested by Mikkel only by a margin, set the spin-bar high with a 1080 into a switch backside 900, followed by a frontside 1080. Game On.
Finnish rider Janne Korpi had laid low first run, but he pulled his act together and came out with all pistons firing in the second heat with one of the most stylish airs of the afternoon -- a frontside 1080 melon. The run in its entirety was smooth enough to move him into the third position on the podium for the Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle. “The course is so good and I liked the jumps a lot.” Janne commented, “The weather was sketchy with a lot of flat light but it didn’t matter, I still had fun.”
Going into the second run, Andreas Wiig was holding down the 3rd place position with an 81.67 and pulled out the big guns in an attempt to beat out the young Bang and the relentless White. He set up on the second booter with a backside 900 Rodeo and launched it into a backside 1260 on the third jump but unfortunately drifted off the landing a bit with a landing too sketchy to best either Mikkel, Shaun or Janne.
Shaun dropped next, and still sitting in second place behind Mikkel Bang, he let loose. Effortlessly laying down a frontside 1080 into a backside 900, Shaun upped the anti by stomping a cab 1260. Collectively the crowd’s jaws dropped and Shaun pumped his fist as the announcers called out his new high score of 95.17- taking the lead with only Mikkel left to drop.
All eyes were on Mikkel, who dropped in for his last run -- the only rider left with a chance to beat out Shaun White’s bionic second run. Mikkel floated through his run, taking a cab 720 into a switch backside 900 and then lofted one of the largest frontside 360’s of the day. Despite Mikkel’s incredible grace under pressure during on his final run, the lack of technical tricks in the combination kept his second run score lower than his first.
“I just enjoyed my last run.” Mikkel said happily at the finish. “I’m okay with second place. I just wanted to have fun during my second run and I did.” Mikkel’s laid-back attitude and smiling perseverance shone as he accepted his second-place trophy.
Shaun’s no stranger to taking home a trophy at the Dew Tour, although this is his first Winter Dew Tour trophy. He took home the 2007 Skateboard Vert Dew Cup, and his first Slopestyle win here at the Breckenridge stop gets him one step closer to taking home a second Dew Cup -- a remarkable feat within itself, not to mention the fact that he can transgress two seasonal sports.