words: Mary Walsh
photos: Mike Yoshida, Aaron Blatt and Mary Walsh
Late Thursday, as Main Street in Breckenridge was alight with both holiday lights and the iPhone screens of reunioning friends ducking into restaurants, temps dipped and big, puffy snowflakes began to fall from the sky. As the hours wore on, glasses were emptied indoors and the snow stacked outside. By 7am Saturday, over half a foot had fallen on the mountain, with deeper stashes in the trees. The Dew Tour crew went to work before the lifts started turning ensuring the rail zone and jump were ready for the riders. At 9am, the first day of Dew Tour finals was a go.
Sixteen of snowboarding's most prominent park jumpers had descended on Summit County for the first big contest of winter and just after noon, as the snowfall increased, they lined up at the top of the drop in. Blustery days and dumping snow are nothing new in the contest circuit; daily winter weather is an unpredictable crapshoot and the veterans of scored runs are no strangers to dropping in regardless of conditions. As Colorado quickly received the snowfall it had been lacking in the weeks leading up to the Dew Tour, Mark McMorris, Sebastien Toutant, Torstein Horgmo, Tyler Nicholson, Mons Roisland, Chas Guldemond, Brock Crouch, Marcus Kleveland, Kyle Mack, Red Gerard, Brandon Davis, Eric Willett, Mikey Ciccarelli, Max Parrot, Darcy Sharpe, and Eric Beauchemin strapped in and pointed it down the runway toward the SPT-built 70-footer.
This year's iteration of the Dew Tour changed up the status quo of the traditional slopestyle contest, separating the event into two sections: the jump, essentially a big air one-hitter and the extended rail line. Due to the weather, jumping was set for Friday with jibbing on the following day, allowing the riders to really focus on each section. While the snow was threatening the speed, slippers ran through the course consistently to clean things up as best possible. The new Dew format allowed each rider four drops, providing ample options despite the continuously worsening weather. Each attempt was scored up to 50 points and the best two runs combined for each person's final score. But, because of the new dual-event combined format, Friday's points are only half the battle—excelling on the metal on Saturday could bump anyone onto the podium, regardless of position post-jump.
Mark McMorris, Seb Toots, and Brock Crouch took the lead after the first run, sticking multi-corked spins that seemed undaunted by the falling snow. The challenging conditions affected everyone, though, as riders for whom triple corks are practically a warm up trick had trouble finding their feet in the negligible visibility and pelting precipitation. Tyler Nicholson and Mikey Ciccarelli stacked locked scores in the thirties on their first go's to stay in and around the bubble. But the conditions were touch and go for the first half of the contest and even consistent jumpers like Max Parrot, Torstein Horgmo, Mons Roisland, and up-and-comer Marcus Kleveland were pushed to their last two runs to put scores on the board. Midway through the event, the snow began to come down harder and speed further decreased. The long, steep runway leading to the kicker no longer provided enough speed to make it over the knuckle—riders lined up behind the drop in, behind a warming tent and dropped as fast as possible, keeping speed as they weaved through the start area before pinning it on the runway. It was a scene.
As the final round of runs began, 2015 Dew Tour slopestyle champion Mark McMorris was in first place. Mark, who possesses a mindblowing ability to consistently land tricks regardless of weather and situation, put two his best runs down in his first two drops, scoring a total of 95.33 points and securing the top positon going into Saturday's rail competition. His last drop was a victory hit. The Canadian freestyle phenom sent a big method straight into the snowy sky, fitting for his return to competition post-serious leg injury and adding metaphorical icing to the cake since it was also his birthday. Congrats, Mark!
Tyler Nicholson threaded the needle of the drop in successfully, sending a triple on his fourth run that moved him into second place with an overall score of 80.00. After Tyler secured second, third place was a revolving door as each successive rider bumped out the person before them. Highlighting the drastic ups and downs of the event because of the snow, Chas Guldemond moved into third from ninth when he landed a backside triple 1440. Marcus Kleveland took over the bubble spot with a switch back 1260 and he was displaced by Eric Willett. In the end, Seb Toots made the top three a Canadian sweep when he landed a cab triple cork 1440 on his fourth and final run and moved into third with a 79.66. Max Parrot earned the highest score of the day with a triple cork 1400 but played it safe with a double cork on his final drop in preparation for the rail portion of the slope contest.
Tomorrow these sixteen heavy hitters will return to Breckenridge's Peak 8 for the second half of slopestyle finals. Stay tuned for more on Snowboarder.com and follow @snowboardermag and @snowboardervideo for updates all day.