Words & photos by Gatorade Free Flow Tour
Opening the 2012 season with a full field of international competitors, the Gatorade Free Flow Tour returned to Vail Ski Resort for slopestyle and superpipe contests this past weekend. Locking their spot on the Finals roster early in the season, Taylor King topped the slopestyle podium while Ty Wellman took the pipe win on Sunday.
Hosting for the third straight year, the Vail participants were hungry as they took to the park Saturday, with great jumps and a creative and progressive rail yard that helped the competitors shine. With super style and deep landings, when the freeskiers took to the course the judges had their work cut out for them. King’s bangers all the way from New Zealand – including a switch left 7 tail to corked switch right 7, followed by a switch left 9 mute and the most corked out blind 6 off the PJ and only misty 4 off the Legacy - made the most of the course, earning his ticket to Utah this February. His closest competitors were second place finisher Erik Lukkari and third place finisher Austen Torvinen.
“It was an outstanding competition,” King said of the Gatorade Free Flow Tour. “There were a lot of tricks being thrown down today, but I’m excited to win - this was my first international podium.”
Sunday’s freeski halfpipe contest set the bar for the season under sunny skies. Making his Gatorade Free Flow Tour debut, and making it count, was Boyne City, Michigan’s Wellman. Beating out riders from as far as the UK and New Zealand, his run consisted of a switch left 7, right 9 safety to left 9. using the entire pipe and a good portion of the sky above it. Second place went to Conor Garretch-Connely, and third place to Jake Cummings.
With their wins, the two earn automatic bids into the Gatorade Free Flow Tour Finals that will take place at the Winter Dew Tour’s Toyota Championship, February 9-12, 2012 at Snowbasin Resort in Utah.
Jake Cummings (3rd), Ty Wellman (1st), Conor Garrecht-Connelly (2nd)
1) Ty Wellman
2) Conor Garrecht-Connelly
3) Jake Cummings
4) Rob Machon
5) Landen Mertz
1) Taylor King
2) Erik Lukkari
3) Austin Torvinen
4) Trevor Jackson
5) Mitchell Lee
The winners in each of the 14 contests (8 slopestyle and 6 superpipe) will be flown to the Gatorade Free Flow Tour Finals, taking place in conjunction with the Winter Dew Tour Toyota Championship, February 12-13 at Snowbasin Resort in Utah. Encompassing the “Flow to Pro” theme that is the cornerstone of the Gatorade Free Flow Tour, the overall freeski superpipe and slopestyle Champions will earn a spot to compete against the pros at the first stop of the 2012-13 Winter Dew Tour the following season.