By Nick Lipton – At only 16 years of age Tyler Flanagan has sealed his place with the snowboarding elite. The youngster from Mammoth Lakes, California took first in the Men's Slopestyle Final after putting together a solid performance free of falls and full of hammers. In a contest packed with the latest and gnarliest tricks, the most basic rule in snowboarding prevailed, land your tricks.
Tyler wouldn't have won the best trick contest today, but his Cab 900, backside 1080, front 1080 line through the jump set was big enough and tough enough to crush any single big trick the other riders could throw. Back to back tens and a 900 showed Tyler's jumping prowess, but the addition of a solid bag of rail tricks, including Cab 270s, left many competitors in the dust.
Both second and third place were taken by youngsters as well. Sage Kotsenburg and Eric Willett managed to hold on and land full runs, separating themselves from the butt check and wash out ridden runs of other riders. Sage, the only rider other than Tyler to score in the 90s, shot out of the gate with a halfcab 5050 backside 180 out. Following up the tech trickery Sage popped off a 900, a 1080, and a doublecork 1080 over the jump line. The run was similar to Tyler's, but Tyler's rail game and smooth style was just a bit more impressive than Sage's.
Right under Sage was Breck' local Eric Willett. Eric scooped up his podium spot with a large doublecork 1080 and some tricky rail moves. Eric, like the other two podium riders, managed to stay on his feet, land a solid run, and combine tech rail tricks with big ticket spins.
Both 4th and 5th place riders could have seen the podium if it wasn't for sketchy landings. In 4th Torstein Horgmo left many counting as he spun and flipped over each jump like a gymnast. As one of the world's top jumpers Torstein's 1260s and massive doublecorked 1080s are visually confusing. His tricks will leave anyone lucky enough to see him live reconsidering their knowledge of physics. The Icelandic machine and 5th place Halldór Helgason would have topped the podium too if it wasn't for some bad luck in the landing department. Known as a rail rider Halldór has been blowing minds with his jumping abilities at this Dew stop. Don't expect either of these riders to make a habit out of non-podium finishes.
The last seven riders all had highlight moments, but it was a lack of consistency and some scary moments that kept them from scoring higher. Brandon Reis, 6th place, had rail combos and some big spins, but nothing big enough to compete with the top riders. Opposite of Brandon was Chas Guldemond. Chas is known for his ability to spin like a top, and will casually put down a 1260 or 1440 any day. Tough luck for Chaz today though, falls kept this human highlight reel in 7th place. As for Sam Hulbert, it was the falls and trick selection that kept him in 8th.
Frustrating day for Mikkel Bang, Scotty Lago, and Heikki Sorsa, some of the worlds top snowboarders. All eyes were on each of these riders as they dropped in. The fans know these guys can produce, but pushing the envelope comes with a price, and today these guys paid up. Forget about the falls and poor scores though, nothing can take the wow factor away from these riders.
Mikkel, 9th place, fell on both runs but only because he was going for some of the hardest tricks in snowboarding. Switch backside 1260s, various 1080s, these are not your cake walk jump tricks. If anything proved Mikkel's ability it was his massive rodeos on the first jump, something he considers a set up trick to whatever next level spin he tried on the second hit. Similar in approach Scotty Lago couldn't ride threw the course without falling because he refuses to try anything easy, ever. A 10th place finish wasn't Lago's plan, but when you're hucking your body over massive jumps with a just go for it approach falls are bound to happen. While Mikkel and Lago "fell" which is a harsh way of saying didn't ride away with enough speed for the next jump, the 11th placed Heikki Sorsa almost hospitalized himself. Trying a double backflip over the second jump Heikki bailed mid flip scaring the entire crowd. Luckily the Fin' landed in a way that didn't cause his body to explode. Heikki summed up the experience, "I thought the jump had more pop. I figured I should bail earlier than later. Later would have been worse."
Finishing the list in 12th place Stef Zeestraten had a tough day on the triple line. For whatever reason Stef couldn't find the sweet spot, and the jump line wrecked any chance Stef had at a better finish. Not to make Stef out to be unworthy of the finals his switch hardway 270 out of the gate was probably the top rail trick of the day.
With Breckenridge wrapped up Tyler Flanagan leads the pack after his big win. The Mammoth local, who only wanted to place in the top ten, couldn't be more excited about his first Dew Tour win and has now set his sights on the ultimate prize, the Winter Dew Cup. Expect to see Tyler in Snow Basin next month as he chases after that goal.
Top 3 in Slopestyle
1. Tyler Flanagan 93.00
2. Sage Kotsenburg 90.00
3. Eric Willett 87.50