Hailey Langland has become a regular on the Dew Tour podium. Her first step onto the winners blocks in Breckenridge came in 2015 with a 3rd place slopestyle finish. In 2016 she took it a step high onto 2nd place. But where will she net out for 2017?
If we are going by her historical gains alone, it looks like she has only one more block to climb and it should be well within her reach. Langland is one of the most solid and stylish woman to ride slopestyle--period. She manages to keep things in perfect perspective as a talented rider with a long and successful career surely in her future. Langland doesn't stress out on doing the biggest tricks at any event. Rather, she puts her focus on landing everything as perfect as possible, regardless of how many flips or spins are involved. It is a system that clearly works.
A few weeks back, though, a member of the Dew Tour crew noticed an Instagram post of hers that mentioned an injured #chickenwing. With high hopes that this was anything but an injury that may sideline her for Dew Tour Breckenridge fast approaching December 14-17, we reached out to Yung Hails to ask the questions that needed answers.
Hi Hailey. A co-worker at Dew Tour thought noticed an Instagram post of yours that mentioned an injured arm. We wanted to reach out and ask about it, and catch up on the upcoming Dew Tour Breckenridge.
Did you sustain a minor arm injury?
I did! It’s been epic. Haha.
Would you mind telling me what happened and where?
It happened at the Stubaier Glacier in Austria. The resort has a sweet little park set up at the top of the glacier, it’s home to some of the best jumps I’ve ever ridden. From what I can remember, on my third or fourth day on hill, I wanted to do a backside 360 on the first jump to warm up and get into the swing of things. I can recall everything up until the moment I left the lip of the jump, maybe I closed my eyes, I have no idea. All I remember is knowing it was not going my way, and thinking to myself, “This is gonna hurt so bad.” As soon as my shoulder hit the ground, I thought I had undoubtedly broken my collarbone. It was crazy, a million thoughts in my head popped up at one moment. I instantly thought,”That’s it. Broken collarbone. No competing this year.”
When I stopped sliding, I was screaming all sorts of things I know my parents wouldn’t have been very happy to have heard. (Insert ‘watch your profanities‘ meme.) The scariest part was laying there by myself in the worst pain I’ve ever been in. On top of that, knowing that anyone who hit the jump couldn’t see me. Eventually, it went from just being me to what seemed like 50 people surrounding me. It didn’t take long for them to get me into a snowcat, and down to the clinics in Neustift. I ended up fracturing one of my ribs, and for my shoulder, I strained my rotator cuff and got a pretty bad bone bruise on my humeral head.
Side Note: Big thank you to the US Team for taking good care of me through this. And to Chris Corning for telling off the ski patrol who was yelling at me in German. It was much appreciated.
What is the current status?
Since the injury I’ve been doing a ton of physical therapy, and spending a lot of time in the gym. It’s been almost a month, and the bone bruise is still pretty bad.
At the last two Dew Tours you have done great! In 2015 you earned 3rd and then last year you took 2nd.
Do you have any expectations for this year? What is your goal for this event?
I don’t really have expectations, especially with this season coming up. I’ve learned in both the positive, and negative way, that anything can happen in an instant. All I really want is to stay healthy throughout the year. My goal for this event ideally would be to keep the podium streak going, but with this current issue with my shoulder, I would like to just stay on my feet no matter the circumstance.
Considering this is an Olympic qualifying year, and because Dew Tour is a U.S. sanctioned qualifier, does that change your approach to riding at Dew? If so, how?
Physically it doesn’t, my runs will stay the same most-likely. It will definitely change my mentality going in. Hopefully I can get a little bit more creative with my runs and stitch something unique together.
Will Dew Tour be an opportunity for you to try your newest, most difficult tricks, or is it more important for you to play it safe and try to earn qualification points conservatively?
For me, it’s better if I make baby steps throughout the season. I get really excited, and antsy when I compete; so pairing that with the first competition of the year, and having not ridden in a while sounds like a complete disaster.
Which Olympic discipline are you most excited to try and compete in? Do you have a favorite between slopestyle and big air, or are you equally confident and excited for both?
I definitely favor slopestyle a lot more than big air. I love the flow of slopestyle, and how satisfying it is getting a full pull on an intense course with huge features. I like watching big air a lot more than I like doing it, sometimes it’s cool to see people fling their carcass around. But it’s exciting to hopefully be apart of a huge progression in both.
Last year Dew Tour debuted a new format for their slopestyle competitions. I remember you said having them the jumps separated from the jibs really helped you focus on landing everything perfect and that your best strategy was to look and land everything solid regardless of how difficult the tricks were.
Because of the Olympics, the course will revert back to the traditional run alternating between jibs and jumps from top to bottom.
If it was up to you, which format would you prefer to ride and why?
I think having everything separated was super fun! It definitely took a lot of the pressure to do big tricks off, but it didn’t feel like slopestyle. For an Olympic qualifier, I would switch it back to a traditional slope course, just since that’s how it’s always been. It’s a good way to show those who don’t know very much about slopestyle, just how hard it is to piece a full run together, and then to actually do it as flawlessly as you can in competition. But I do hope in the future, more contests will start to give that variety of contest format that Dew Tour presented to us last season.
How does the traditional format change your approach? Will you do more difficult tricks, even if it sacrifices a little style and grace?
The traditional format is what I am most comfortable with. It reminds me of riding full park laps, and having fun with friends when I was younger. I would always like to do bigger tricks in my runs. But if I know if I do a bigger trick than I’m used to and it looks whack, or doesn’t feel right, I’m gonna be so bummed. So I try to stick with what’s comfortable, but still a little out of my comfort zone. That could mean doing a cab 7 with a different grab, or different tweak.
Final question, do you have any particular concerns for Dew Tour? Are their any particular riders that you feel you are in direct competition with to make the U.S. Olympic team?
I feel like I’m in a pretty good spot. I have no concerns for Dew Tour, other than I know there are going to be a lot of stressed out riders at the top. So hopefully we’ll be able to tune it out, and everyone can have a fun contest.