Thursday marked the first day of live streaming at the Dew Tour Mountain Championships and the men's freeski slopestyle semifinal was the first event to showcase the live, action-packed energy on the hill. Bringing in the heaviest skiers from every corner of the globe, the level of competition was off the charts.
Bringing a fresh format to the semifinal this year, a last chance qualifier (LCQ) offered one more shot for skiers to earn a spot in the final. Following all thirty riders taking two runs with only their best score ranking, the field was narrowed to ten that advanced directly to the final. The next ten skiers were allotted one last run to earn one of the two available LCQ positions as their backdoor into the big show on Sunday.
Oystein Braten Qualifies 1st, Freeski Slopestyle Semifinal
Semifinal Moment of Proof:
Coming out of the first round of runs, Oystein Braten laid down a solid line but after watching the rest of the skiers he knew it was going to take more to stay up high in the rankings. "I saw all these sick people going off and I was like, 'whoa...' I had to up it," said Oystein.
Up it he did. Oystein went all out on the rails as that is his ultimate comfort zone and the judges rewarded him accordingly. “When I was younger I was scared of doing jumps. Rails have been my favorite all these years and I feel they are my strong side, so I tried to show that.”
Freeski Slopestyle Semifinal Highlights
LCQ Moment of Truth:
Several heavy hitters found themselves on the outside looking in at the conclusion of the semifinal, with riders like Bobby Brown, Russ Henshaw, James Woods and Alex Beaulieu-Marchand all forced to go through the LCQ in order to secure one of the last two spots in the final. It would be hard to image a slopestyle final without all of those guys, but don’t tell that to 16-year-old Andri Ragettli of Switzerland.
With Brown and Beaulieu-Marchand holding the top two transfer spots, Ragettli was the second-to-last-rider to drop, and he ended up posting his highest score of the day in either round – an 89.5. The final rider in the LCQ, McRae Williams then put down a solid run of his own that landed him in second place and bumped Brown – former Dew Cup champ and Breckenridge local – out of the last transfer spot.
Nick Goepper Qualifies 2nd, Freeski Slopestyle Semifinal
Oystein Braten -- 450 onto the Nixon 20+ handrail to blind 270 off, transfer from the Mountain Dew box to rail with a switch-up blind 270 off and then gapped out to the second Toyota rail feature with a switch 270 to pretzel and 270 off.
Alex Bellemare -- Switch right 270 onto the Nixon 20+ handrail to 270 off straight into a left 450 onto the Mountain Dew handrail.
Nick Goepper -- Switch left double cork 1080 back-to-back to a switch right double grabbing double cork.
Gus Kenworthy -- Left double cork tail grab 1080 and switch 450 onto the Toyota rainbow rail to 270 off.
Quote of the Comp:
"I stepped it up on the rails, felt really good and just hoped the judges would like it. I scored a 92, which is my highest score ever! I couldn't be more happy." -- Oystein Braaten
Oscar Wester Qualifies 3rd, Freeski Slopestyle Semifinal
*Top 10 advance to the final
*Top 2 advance to the final
Men’s Freeski Slopestyle Final:
Watch the final this Sunday, December 14th at 1 p.m. ET on NBC and online at DewTour.com/LIVE and the NBC Sports Live Extra app.