In the world of snowboarding and freeskiing, the bonds of friendship are strong. But for many riders the sport can also be a family activity, which brings the strongest of bonds and support to the slopes.
This year at Dew Tour, there will be quite a few sets of siblings-plus a pair of cousins-putting that on full display.
Ben Ferguson / Gabe Ferguson
Ben, 22, had already garnered a lot of hype this year, and that was before he took a massive step toward qualifying for his first U.S. Olympic team when he finished second at the Copper Grand Prix. Like Ben, younger brother Gabe, 18, is a Dew Tour veteran. Ben has finished inside the top ten at Dew Tour a few times during his career, though Gabe will be seeking his first-top ten result. Hailing from Bend, Oregon, both brothers showcase a ton of style in their runs and were past champions of Red Bull Double Pipe’s doubles contest.
Darcy Sharpe / Cassie Sharpe
A case of two separate paths. After the family moved to Vancouver Island when the siblings were still young, older sister Cassie took up skiing, while younger brother Darcy opted for a snowboard. But in 2015, those divergent paths led them both onto the Dew Tour podium in their respective events--Cassie was second in ski pipe, Darcy was third in snowboard slopestyle. Cassie, 25, is a legitimate contender for a victory in her event. However, Darcy, 21, will be up against fierce competition in snowboard slopestyle, with many of his toughest challengers coming from his Canadian teammates.
Beau-James Wells / Byron Wells
The Wells brothers have been practically synonymous with freeskiing for a long time. Though Jossi, 27, and Jackson, 19, won’t be competing in Breckenridge, their brothers Beau-James, 22, and Byron, 25, will. Neither Beau-James nor Byron are strangers to the Dew Tour podium in ski halfpipe--Beau-James was second in 2015, and Byron most recently placed second in 2012. Byron has already been named to New Zealand’s 2018 Olympic team, while Beau-James remains in contention for a spot. A strong result at Dew Tour could certainly help Beau-James’ case.
Miguel Porteous / Nico Porteous
The Wells brothers aren’t the only talented freeskiing siblings to come out of New Zealand. The Porteous brothers are rising stars in the sport and could be shaking up leaderboards in due time. Miguel, 18, and Nico, 16, have both already been named to New Zealand’s Olympic halfpipe team and could threaten for podium spots when they make their Dew Tour debut.
*Update: As of date, Nico will not be competing due to injury.
Birk Irving / Svea Irving
Looking for a dark horse contender for the U.S. Olympic men’s freeski halfpipe team? Perhaps it could be 18-year-old Birk Irving, who has been skiing well and drawing praise from his teammates. Last season he finished fourth at X Games and was ranked fifth overall in the AFP’s final halfpipe standings. With Dew Tour serving as the third of five selection events for the Olympic team, he’ll have extra incentive to shine in Breckenridge. His younger sister Svea, 15, is an up-and-comer on the women’s side. She captured a silver medal in halfpipe at last season’s junior world championships but is new to the pro circuit this year. Dew Tour will be one of her first major contests.
Kevin Rolland / Tess Ledeux
Rolland and Ledeux are the only athletes on this list who aren’t siblings. They are, however, cousins, and they grew up skiing together in La Plagne, France. It’s no surprise that Ledeux, a technical rider on the rails, has emerged as one of the future stars of women’s freeskiing. Rolland, now 28, has won three Dew Tour halfpipe contests in the past, with his most recent victory coming in 2011. Now, 16-year-old Ledeux looks poised to collect a lot of hardware of her own in slopestyle as her career progresses. Last season, she won gold at the FIS World Championships and earned a pair of X Games silver medals.
Siblings of past Dew Tour winners
There will be a few other athletes in Breckenridge with familiar last names, perhaps none more so than Arielle Gold, Oystein Braaten and Kirra Kotsenburg.
Arielle, 21, is well-known on the contest circuit, as is her older brother Taylor. Arielle and Taylor have both been on the podium at Dew Tour before, and Taylor even won the men’s halfpipe competition in 2014. But Taylor will be sitting Dew Tour-and the entire Olympic season--out as he continues to recover from reoccurring injuries to his knee and shoulder.
Oystein, 22, is the younger brother of Gjermund Braaten, who won the Dew Tour’s snowboard slopestyle contest held at Breckenridge in 2011. Unlike Gjermund, Oystein opted instead for skis, and he’s carving out quite a legacy of his own. The two-time reigning AFP slopestyle champion, Oystein is a legitimate threat to take all at Dew Tour Breckenridge and is certainly a gold medal contender for Norway this Olympic season.
As for Kirra, the 21-year-old is the younger sister of Sage Kotsenburg, the 2009/10 Dew Cup overall champion and 2014 Olympic gold medalist in snowboard slopestyle. If nothing else, winning is in her blood.