Words: Jeff Schmuck
Photos: John Vandervalk & Jeff Schmuck
The first stop of the Winter Dew Tour continued today in Breckenridge, Colorado with men's ski slopestyle prelims and men's ski halfpipe prelims.
Before the day began, the majority of the athletes enjoyed a night out on the town at last night's AFP Awards, where the 09/10 AFP Champions were crowned in front of a host of their peers and an admiring crowd...
Kaya Turski, AFP Women's Slopestyle Champion.
Rosalind Groenewoud and Jen Hudak, AFP Women's Halfpipe 2nd and 1st place.
Bobby Brown and Andreas Håtveit, AFP Men's Slopestyle 1st and 3rd place.
Jossi Wells, AFP Men's Halfpipe Champion.
Andreas Hatveit, AFP Men's Big Air Champion.
Jossi Wells and Rosalind Groenewoud, Men's and Women's AFP Overall World Champions.
Much like yesterday, Mother Nature blessed the gaggle of competitors with crystal clear and calm skies today, which helped set the tone for an amazing day of competitive skiing on the perfectly manicured slopestyle course and lengthy superpipe.
First up was men's ski slopestyle prelims, where the top 13 from Wednesday's qualifiers squared off against the 19 pre-qualified athletes. All 32 skiers were run in one heat, and had two runs each to earn one of the nine spots in Sunday's finals, where they'll meet the always-dangerous trio of Bobby Brown, Tom Wallisch and Andreas Håtveit.
Much like he did in the open qualifiers, the man from the land down under, Russ Henshaw, once again blew away the competition today with a stellar second run that included a left double cork 10 to right double cork 12 on the bottom two jumps.
Hot on his heels in second was the flawless Sammy Carlson, who was sitting comfortably atop the leader board after his first run (until it was bested by Henshaw), which consisted of some technical shenanigans on the Nike 6.0 Burlington Double Set Rail, a switch double cork 9, his patented gigantic switch cork 9 poke, into a textbook double cork 10 at the bottom.
Rounding out the top three was the flying French Canadian Alexis 'Lex' Godbout, who followed his corked out 9's and 10's (which were easily the most off-axis of the day) with a huge right side kangaroo flip at the bottom.
Just behind him in fourth was LJ Strenio, who was getting buck wild in a way that only he can, and Ian ‘Chug’ Cosco in fifth, who somehow managed to power back after a horrific fall and subsequent injury to his hand on his first run to win a ticket to the big show.
Placing sixth and seventh respectively were Thomas Dolplads and Elias Ambuhl, both of whom have been putting on a clinic all week long on the pristine slopestyle course with some of the most picture perfect tricks out of the whole wolf pack.
And last but certainly not least, taking the final two spots were steeze master Phil Casabon, who's smooth and creative run had the large and energetic crowd drooling (and barking) in approval, and his Quebecois counterpart JF Houle, who ripped the course a new one on both of his runs.
Missing the cut but very worthy of mention were Banks Gilberti, who was one of the only skiers to pull double duty in both slope and pipe, Dane Tudor, for killing it all week after taking a slight hiatus from competing, Chris Logan, who unfortunately just ended up on the wrong side of the bubble, Alex Schlopy, for his double cork wobbles, Nick Martini, for being the man, and Henrik Harlaut...because it's Henrik.
Big ups are also in order for Colby James West, who is in our thoughts after getting injured on his first run (forcing him to pull out of both slope and pipe later in the day), and to Jossi Wells, who stepped up to the plate to compete today despite nursing an extremely sore ankle following his major surgery this summer and having not hit jumps of this size since then.
After a short break and some lunch and tanning on the deck of the lodge, it was time for men's ski halfpipe prelims, where the nine qualifiers from yesterday joined forces with the 15 pre-qualified athletes for an intense showdown in the super stunt ditch.
Following the battle royale, taking the top spot was X Games and European X Games gold medalist Kevin Rolland, who threw down a double cork 12, a whiskey flip, switch hits a plenty and everything in between.
Just behind him was last weekend's Grand Prix winner Justin Dorey, who rose to the occasion on his second run after crashing on a double cork 12 during his first to put down the spectacle that landed him on top of the podium last week.
In third was the high flying Thomas Krief, who stomped some dub 12's and whiskey flips of his own, and speaking of high flying, taking fourth was the extraordinary Noah Bowman, who skied like an absolute animal today and will surely be blowing more than a few minds on national TV tomorrow.
Taking fifth place was open qualifier winner Duncan Adams, who was deservingly rewarded for his spic n' span style, while last year's Gatorade Free Flow Tour champion Torin Yater-Wallace set today's standard for amplitude by going bigger than anyone else in the field at the age of 15, earning him props from everyone from Simon Dumont to some young fans in the crowd...
In seventh was Walter Wood, who skied as well as he ever has today, laying down a laundry list of technical tricks, while amidst much grumbling about the judging in the finish corral, Mike Riddle surprisingly only placed eighth, despite the fact that his run was on the same level as Dorey's.
And taking the ninth and final spot was good ol' Byron Wells, who once again showed why he's considered one of the most consistent pipe skiers on both hemispheres, and along with the other eight will now meet his brother Jossi, Xavier Bertoni and Simon Dumont in tomorrow's finals.
Mike Riddle, Kevin Rolland, Justin Dorey and Xavier Bertoni.
Stay tuned for more from the first stop of the Winter Dew Tour in Breckenridge, Colorado, which will continue tomorrow with men's and women's halfpipe finals and women's slopestyle prelims, and conclude on Sunday with men's and women's slopestyle finals.
Here's a look at the full results from today, along with the TV schedule for tomorrow and Sunday's finals...
Men's Slopestyle Prelims
1) Russ Henshaw - 90.33
2) Sammy Carlson - 90.33
3) Alexis Godbout - 87.83
4) John Strenio - 83.67
5) Ian Cosco - 83.67
6) Thomas Dolplads - 83.33
7) Elias Ambuhl - 82.50
8) Philip Casabon - 81.83
9) JF Houle - 81.17
10) Chris Logan - 81.00
11) Charles Gagnier - 79.17
12) Sean Jordan - 79.00
13) Henrik Harlaut - 77.67
14) Alex Schlopy - 77.33
15) PK Hunder - 76.33
16) Banks Gilberti - 75.17
17) Paul Bergeron - 74.67
18) McRae Williams - 72.67
19) Simon Dumont - 72.50
20) Chris Laker - 72.17
21) Aleksander Aurdal - 71.83
22) James Woods - 71.67
23) Dane Tudor - 69.83
24) Jacob Wester - 67.17
25) Elvis Eidsvold Harsheim - 66.50
26) Nick Martini - 65.67
27) Vincent Gagnier - 62.50
28) Steffen Hamre - 60.67
29) Kolby Ward - 58.83
30) Anders Backe - 34.00
31) Jossi Wells - 31.33
32) Colby West - 10.00
The top nine will now move onto men's ski slopestyle finals on Sunday, where they'll meet Andreas Håtveit, Bobby Brown and Tom Wallisch, who were all pre-qualified to finals after placing top three in last year's Dew Cup.
Men's Halfpipe Prelims
1) Kevin Rolland - 90.50
2) Justin Dorey - 88.50
3) Thomas Krief - 86.25
4) Noah Bowman - 85.50
5) Duncan Adams - 83.75
6) Torin Yater-Wallace - 82.25
7) Walter Wood - 80.00
8) Mike Riddle - 79.50
9) Byron Wells - 77.00
10) Dan Marion - 76.25
11) Tucker Perkins - 72.00
12) Joss Christensen - 71.00
13) David Wise - 70.00
14) Matt Margetts - 62.25
15) Tyler Peterson - 60.50
16) Taylor Seaton - 59.00
17) Gus Kenworthy - 59.00
18) Rob Heule - 54.25
19) Peter Olenick - 50.00
20) Sean Collin - 49.75
21) Mitch Gilman - 46.00
22) Banks Gilberti - 36.75
23) AJ Kemppainen - 9.00
24) Colby West - DNS
The top nine finishers will now move onto men's ski halfpipe finals tomorrow, where they'll meet Jossi Wells, Simon Dumont and Xavier Bertoni, who were all pre-qualified to finals after placing top three in last year's Dew Cup.
Dew Tour Finals TV Schedule
Ski Superpipe Finals – Saturday, December 18th, 9pm - 10pm PST on USA Network
Ski Slopestyle Finals – Sunday, December 18th, 11pm - 12am EST on USA Network