In recent years the Dew Tour, as well as various other multi-discipline events, has become a breeding ground for creating hybrid athletes. More and more snowboarders are giving themselves the opportunity to compete in more than one discipline and with the recent addition of slopestyle into the Olympics riders are looking to make history by winning double gold in Sochi. The challenges of doing just that for any competitor, as the pool of talent standing in their way is immense, is the additional training and back-to-back competitions. Reaching one's dream has never been so exhausting.
The most notable athlete attempting to compete in two sports is Shaun White. The two-time Olympic gold medalist is making Breckenridge his first stop to qualify for two disciplines for Sochi, showcasing his abilities in halfpipe and testing his abilities in slopestyle; the latter he used to compete and conquer, but nowadays has some catching up to do.
White has admitted that competing in both disciplines will be a challenge. As he gets older, his competition is getting younger, and better. In the halfpipe White will have to contend with 15-year-old Japanese phenom, Ayumu Hirano, Switzerland's Iouri Podladtchikov, as well as his own teammates, Scotty Lago and Louie Vito. Vito, in particular, has admitted to being in the best shape of his life.
Shaun White in his comfort zone
On the slopestyle side, White will have the dynamic duo from Canada to overcome. Mark McMorris, who won the men's slopestyle event at the 2012 Dew Tour and his teammate, Sebastien Toutant, aka Seb Toots, who finished fourth last year. White will also be challenged by his own teammate, Chas Guldemond, who's become a fixture on podiums, including last year's Dew Tour where he placed second.
"[Breckenridge] will be a bit of a coming out for me in the slopestyle, to show what I've been working on and see what everyone else is working on," says White with regard to his return to slopestyle. "Definitely trying to put down some triple [corks] because that is kind of what eluded me last season."
Shaun White returns to slopestyle
Perhaps the most versatile crossover athlete is Australia's Torah Bright. For her, three is the magic number. Not only has she already qualified for halfpipe – in which she won gold in Vancouver after suffering a concussion – and slopestyle to represent her country, but the 26-year-old blonde beauty is also attempting to qualify for snowboard cross. She's using the Dew Tour and upcoming events to stay in shape and dial in her tricks.
When asked why she became a crossover athlete, a proposal brought forth by her coach – her brother Ben – she said, embracing the embodiment of the sport, "because I love snowboarding."
For Bright, competing in multiple disciplines is a "journey," one she wants to share, along with the joys for snowboarding that she has.
Torah Bright shows off her pipe prowess
Exhaustion is a challenge that Bright has acknowledged, however, "the joy I have right now I feel is the only thing making it possible that goes with the time and travel that goes into it."
When it comes to contests, Finland's Peetu Piiroinen has been described as an "absolute machine," probably because he's known for riding every type of competition – from big air and slopestyle to quarterpipe and superpipe. Though last year's Dew Tour results weren't that great he did compete in three events – Big Air, Slopestyle and Superpipe – which speaks volumes about his passion and dedication to progressing his sport. This is probably why the 25-year-old has become the most successful rider of all-time on the World Snowboard Tour.
Last spring, 18-year-old Serena Shaw came to Breckenridge to compete in the United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association National Championships at Copper Mountain. Shaw came in second. Now, she'll come to Breckenridge to show everyone her halfpipe and slopestyle skills that has garnered her podiums in both disciplines. The last time she competed in both at a FIS event – Sun Valley in March of this year – she won both events, the second time she's done that.
Whether it's two events, or even three, the world of snowboarding is blessed with athletes who want to compete and show their true love and passion for their sport. Pulling double duty this weekend in Breckenridge is going to be exhausting for the riders, but exhilarating for the fans.
Read up on what’s happening on the freeski side in Crossover Competitors do Double Duty at Dew: Freeski.