Men's Snowboard Slopestyle Qualifier, one of the most highly anticipated events of the iON Mountain Championships in Breckenridge, Colorado, went down today in absolute perfect conditions. Given the disciplines inaugural inclusion in the 2014 Winter Olympics, a stacked lineup of world-class competitors went all out during the event.
The qualifier consisted of 30 riders each taking two runs down the course, with only the best score counting, to advance the 16 highest-scoring athletes to finals on Sunday.
Heading into this competition, everyone was wondering how Shaun White was going to do, as he's also competing in the men's superpipe - he won that qualifier. Watch the superpipe final on Saturday, December 14 at 2:00pm ET live on NBC and DewTour.com/LIVE.
The deck was perhaps stacked against White with the deep talent pool, that includes Canada's deadly tag team of Mark McMorris and Sebastien Toutant, aka Seb Toots. McMorris won this event last year with the inclusion of perfectly executed triple corks. White also had to contend with fellow Americans Eric Willet, Sage Kotsenburg and Chas Guldemond, who came into Breck hot enough to melt the course. Guldemond, in particular, has been riding as well as any rider with his seniority--he's been working hard to put up solid runs in order to earn valuable USSA points this week.
When asked his thoughts on Dew Tour being a part of the USSA selection series, Guldemond was quick to express his approval. “It’s rad. [Dew Tour] is such a good event, it brings everybody out here. It really separates the men from the boys.” Guldemond went on to speak to the pressure, or lack there of, that comes along with working toward representing his country. “I’m definitely feeling confident about representing the U.S. I’ve been working really hard and I’ve been in the game for a while. I just have to trust my instinct, stick to my plan and I think I will do well in Sochi.”
White lead after the first round of runs, while some serious heavy hitters, such as Torstein Horgmo and Canada’s slopestyle superstar Mark McMorris, had some slip ups and needed to make up ground in their second run.
McMorris has had all eyes on him since the Olympic announcement to include snowboard slopestyle. But, despite his insanely deep bag of tricks, he is still human and squatted out on his first run forcing him to pull it out in his second in order to advance. Fortunately for McMorris he did just that.
“My legs were shaking, but I knew that I had landed that run so many times and that it was uncharacteristic for me to fall like that. But, I got it done and that’s all that matters. Sunday is a new day,” said McMorris, still shaking off the nerves. “There’s a lot of tension around slopestyle this year, it’s pretty wild stuff. I think it is going to be a fun year, I just need to not scare myself like that again.”
In the end, it was White reigning over his competitors with his first run score of 93.20 taking him all the way to the final. White has been on fire this week, now qualifying first in both superpipe and slopestyle, and following both of his second, glory runs White was quick to take off from the venue and avoided all contact with the media.
1st Place - Shaun White
2nd Place – Eric Willet
3rd Place - Sebastien Toutant
4th Place – Peetu Piiroinen
5th Place – Chas Guldemond
6th Place – Sage Kotsenburg
7th Place – Brandon Davis
8th Place – Stale Sandbech
9th Place – Nikolas Baden
10th Place – Eric Beauchemin
11th Place – Mark McMorris
12th Place – Sven Thorgren
13th Place – Spencer Link
14th Place – Aleksander Ostreng
15th Place – Ulrik Badertscher
16th Place – Maxence Parrot
17th Place – Gjermund Braaten