Words: Heather Hendricks
Photos: Aaron Dodds
Captions: Laura Austin
Yesterday’s blue bird skies and prime conditions were drastically different from the blizzard that set the scene for today’s men’s and women’s pipe finals at first stop of the Winter Dew Tour in Breckenridge, Colorado.
Mother Nature decided she had blessed Breckenridge with enough sun over the past two days and promptly turned her thoughts to snow early this morning. With powder pounding down throughout the day, it was was clear that today’s Nike 6.0 Open finals would be challenging for the riders. The conditions were ideal for ripping pow, but absolutely terrible for shredding pipe. The only thing clear about the day was that the victors would be the ones that could adjust their runs to the inclement weather. Naturally, this proved harder for some than others, making today’s contest anything but predictable.
Kicking off the snow show were the top five ladies from yesterday’s qualifiers who joined Kaitlyn Farrington, who was pre-qualified. The first runs for the ladies proved disastrous as everyone except for Sohie Rodriguez fell. Halfpipe hero, Kelly Clark went down in both of her runs which was super uncharacteristic for the multiple X-Games medalist and Olympian. Clark qualified in first place yesterday with a score of 97.00 but today was not her day as she landed in last place, which may actually be a first for her.
After these tragic first runs, it was clear that the heavy flakes were hindering the riders tremendously. As the ladies suited up for their second runs, the highest score of the day was a mere 53. In order to top that, the ladies simply needed to lay down a solid, bobble-free run. Sophie Rodriguez and Soko Yamoka fell right off the bat and eliminated their chance for any Dew Tour victory.
Spanish rider Queralt Castellet wasn’t going to let the snow stop her again and stomped an impressive run that included a front 9 and back to back 5s. Castellet was able to get the amplitude needed for these spins by pumping the tranny and landing high on the walls. Her technical run earned an 85.5 which held up throughout the rest of competition, and assured the 21 year old the coveted victory of the day.
Elena Hight nabbed the second place spot by scoring 80.50 in her second run which included her signature back 9. Rounding out the top three was Kaitlyn Farrington who pleased the judges with fakie to fakie 9s. Amplitude was definitely an issue for Farrington and it was impressive that she was able to get around three rotations inside the walls of the pipe.
The conditions continued to worsen as the men geared up to get their game on. Louie Vito, qualified dead last yesterday making him the first to drop today. He banged out two doubles near the the top of the course, and attempted a back ten at the bottom but slipped out on the landing.
Matt Ladley was the next to drop and threw down a run that was surprisingly filled with amplitude despite the quarter-sixed flakes falling from the sky. Ladley’s big back 10s earned a 75.00 which held up for the rest of day for a second place finish.
A few minutes after Ladley’s run, the power went out in the announcers booth and the big screen went blank. The boisterous atmosphere was quickly replaced with an eerie calm. There was confusion and calamity as riders continued to drop and the blizzard made it hard to tell who was who until they neared the bottom of the pipe.
Despite the confusion, Greg Bretz put down an awesome run that included back to back doubles and a front 10. Bretz’s run scored a 73.75 which put him right below Ladley going into the second attempts.
Right as Vito was dropping in for his second run, the power came back on in full force. This was just the electricity needed to pump up the tiny dancer. Vito nailed huge back to back doubles, back to back Michael chucks, and two tens. This was the run of the day and earned him a 90.25.
The remaining eleven riders to drop were plagued with untimely falls that were clearly due to the heavy slough in the middle of the pipe. JJ Thomas was the last rider to drop and after falling in his first run, he set his sights on stomping his second. He dropped back to back tens at an impressive height, but bobbled a little bit near the bottom. He was awarded a 69.50 for his efforts, but this wasn’t enough to oust Bretz for a podium finish.
In the end it was Vito, Ladley, and Bretz that earned Dew Tour glory on this super snowy Saturday.
The power mishap, coupled with incessant snow fall made today’s pipe finals more interesting than most. It was as if today was mother nature’s way of saying get out of the U-tube and go ride pow.
Tomorrow slopestyle finals are taking place, and it will be interesting to see if the weather will be as integral as it was today.. Stay tuned.
Even though there was a blizzard, the riders maintained enough visibility to see their peers perform and in turn provide us with their individual best two of the day:
"Trevor Jacob's bomb drop off the scaffolding and Mason Aguirre's front ten." – Matt Ladley
"Scotty Lago's cab double in practice and Luke Mitrani's michaelchuck nose." – Christian Haller
"Louie Vito's double and Matt Ladley's back to back 10's." – Steven Fisher
"Mason Aguirre's front 10 and Luke Mitrani's double Michael chuck to penguin slide. VC." – Trevor Jacob
"Louie Vito's fs double and Mason Aguirre's fs 10." – Luke Mitrani
"Louie Vito's front double ten and Matt Ladley's cab 10." – Greg Bretz
"Louie Vito's back to back doubles." – JJ Thomas
"Scotty Lago's cab double 10 even though he fell both times and Luke Mitrani double chucking his face off." – Mason Aguirre
“Luke Mitrani's dub chuck and Mason Aguirre's fs 10.” – Louie Vito
1 Louie Vito USA
2 Matt Ladley USA
3 Greg Bretz USA
4 JJ Thomas USA
5 Christian Haller SUI
6 Trevor Jacob USA
7 Steve Fisher USA
8 Mason Aguirre USA
9 Luke Mitrani USA
10 Iikka-Eemeli Laari Fin
11 Scotty Lago, USA
12 Kazuhiro Kokubo
1 Queralt Castellet ESP
2 Elena Hight USA
3 Kaitlyn Farrington USA
4 Sophie Rodriguez FRA
5 Soko Yamaoka JPN
6 Kelly Clark USA