Bringing team vibes into snowboarding competition, Dew Tour's Team Challenge closed out the weekend of riding with its second-ever iteration of their one of a kind event. A truly unique competition, the Team Challenge depends on the cumulative effort between three riders, each responsible for a different course-pipe, rails or jump-plus a designated coach. Each rider had two attempts to earn a high score and do their part to help propel their team to the top of the leaderboard, and the coaches kept their riders stoked before every run.
To start the event, teams put their best foot forward with a rider in the pipe. However, this was no ordinary pipe. Labeled the modified pipe, the talented crew at Snow Park Technologies pulled an all-nighter to tweak the pipe to work in new features. To start, a hip was built to launch into the top of the pipe, two soccer goal style rails more than halfway down with a love seats opposite each other and then two long rails along the down slope of each side at the very bottom of the pipe.
"They made a pipe that was a little more fun to ride with some added features," said head snowboard judge Tom Zikas, "and with that we want to see use of those features. If we see a stock pipe run without hitting any of those features, it is likely going to get scored lower."
The first rider to drop into the modified pipe was arguably the favorite for the event, Danny Davis who was riding for Burton. Davis has become synonymous with snowboard creativity and is the mastermind of a unique event of his own, Peace Park. Davis actually had a mishap in his first run at the bottom of the pipe as he hopped off the top of the soccer goal rail. On his second run, though, he completed a full pull highlighted by a stylish frontside air to lien, a tail press on the soccer goal and a lipslide to fakie on the final rail all which amounted to a score of 83.
However, it was the unlikely slopestyle rider representing for Rome that found the highest score, Rene Rinnekangas. Rene definitely surprised the crowd and judges with his run that started off with a 180 gapping over the hip takeoff into a fakie front flip to forward that will now be remembered as the Rene Roll. Lower in the pipe he hopped up onto the deck and opted to ride under the soccer goal and Miller flip his way back into the transition to set up for a frontside invert to fakie and a switch 180 to tap the last rail. Rene earned an 86.66 for the Rome squad.
"I don't usually ride pipe," explained Rene. "I'm so thankful to Rome that they invited me to ride it."
Coming into the rails section Rome was leading Burton and DC was close behind, and by the end of that series of runs those three remained close in points.
Red Gerard was the first to drop into the rails and he had his Burton teammates hyping him up. Gerard laid down a super stylish run starting off with a gap out to backside lipslide then a 50-50 to lipslide through waterfall drop before spinning 270 out and finishing with a boardslide that he flipped a rodeo 630 out. Gerard's effort put Burton in a temporary lead with an 87 for a cumulative 170 points.
Gerard gave up a bit of insight between runs with regard to headspace to riding for his team saying, "I'm competing with Mark McMorris and Danny Davis, so this was a little hectic because if I didn't land my run I basically lose it for the team. But, I landed my run, so its all good."
Though Sebbe De Buck earned the second highest score in the rails section of 86.33, which kept DC sitting in third for the time being, it was all eyes on Ozzy Henning hitting the rails for Rome. Henning looked to be carrying momentum with him onto the rails as he won overall and best trick at snowboard streetstyle Friday night. Henning earned a score of 84.33 on the rails, which placed Rome just ahead of Burton by a slight margin of .99.
"With my win in streetstyle the other night, and getting to ride in the Team Challenge while hanging with Stale and Rene," began Henning, "Dew Tour has definitely been treating me really good."
With less than a single point separating Rome's lead over Burton, it all came down to the jumps section. Fully aware of the situation were the riders set to represent, Stale Sandbech for Rome and Mark McMorris for Burton.
McMorris has a history of performing well under pressure. But, as if being the final member to rider for his trailing team wasn't enough, McMorris landed heavy on his heels and slid out on the first jump. It would all come down to his final run. But before McMorris would get his second go, Sandbech would blow away the crowd and judges.
Sandbech went all out on his first of two runs, and after stomping a clean cab 1260 grabbing stalefish he spun a backside flat 1440 grabbing mute with ease to earn an impressive 93. The pressure was certainly on for McMorris.
McMorris' second run was everything he wanted it to be, pressure cooker situation included. Off the first jump he also landed a clean cab 1260 grabbing stalefish, but once combined with a perfect backside triple cork 1440 it was not enough to take the lead.
Sandbech, still with one more run to go, went out for one more two jump run and put down an all-new trick he had never once landed even outside of competition. Following his cab 1260 stalefish, Sandwich wound up and spun a flat 1620 mute--four and a half rotations. Sandwich upped his score to 93.66 and further cemented the win for Rome Snowboards in the second-ever Dew Tour Team Challenge.
"It was Mark against me for jumps," explained Sandbech. "That was intense, I had to beat Mark somehow and in the end I managed to." Sandbech went on to speak about his 1620 saying, "I've done a cab 1620 at X Games once, but I've never done the backside 1620. I've never done a backside in my life. The first one i tried was in the final yesterday, but I had to go for redemption on that today."
Team Challenge Results
1.) Rome, 264.65
2.) Burton, 262.00
3.) Nitro, 241.33
4.) Salomon, 209.66
5.) Ride, 199.32
6.) DC, 187.66