Shaun White soars to the top qualifying spot in Thursday’s halfpipe contest at the Breckenridge Dew Tour. Photo by Jason Blevins
For the first days of this Olympic season, even the athletes most eager to shine in Sochi’s Winter Games took tentative steps toward their goal.
There wasn’t any double-cork 1260s or triple-cork 1440s at the Dew Tour in Breckenridge on Thursday. While some powerhouses (and the two youngest competitors at Dew) prevailed, several celebrated athletes did not pass through qualifying rounds.
Canadian pipe skier Roz Groenewoud – the 2011 world champion and two-time Winter X Games gold medalist – fell shy of the top eight finalists in Wednesday’s qualifying contest. Grete Elliassen, a perennial slopestyle champion recovering from a 2012 knee injury, dropped from qualifying after falling on her first run. Henrik Harlaut, the always grinning Swede with the most audacious tricks in slopestyle, bobbled a landing on Thursday and failed to make Sunday’s finals. Olympic gold medal snowboarder Hannah Teter didn’t make the finals.
Some of the most heralded athletes still prevailed in the first steps of the Dew Tour.
Kelly Clark continued her several-season dominance, qualifying first for Saturday’s finals, followed by 13-year-old Kim Chloe and 17-year-old Arielle Gold, of Steamboat Springs. Shaun White easily flew into the halfpipe finals, throwing a relatively tame – by White standards – run to grab the top qualifying spot for Saturday’s finals. The finals will includeSteamboat pipe riders Taylor Gold and Benji Farrow as well as Breckenridge’s Zachary Black. The slow start will be forgotten Saturday when riders throw their A game.
A snowboarder practices on the slopestyle course at Breckenridge’s Dew Tour on Thursday. Photo by Jason Blevins
“I’m really holding back. Saving something for the finals, like everyone, I’m sure,” White said.
Washington’s Angeli VanLaanen, battling back from Lyme disease, took the lead spot on Wednesday. Her U.S. Freeskiing teammate, Devin Logan, skiing in her second qualifying contest of the day Wednesday, also secured a berth in the finals in her fist contests since exploding her knee in 2012.
Ladies battling back from injury is a resonant theme at Dew. Logan took second in the slopestyle qualifiers on Wednesday and Ashley Battersby, who blew up her knee at January’s X Games in Aspen, both will ski in the women’s slopestyle finals on Saturday.
“It’s amazing how strong they are. They inspire me,” said Breckenridge’s Keri Herman, who qualified third in the women’s ski slopestyle contest. (Slopestyle skier Maggie Voisin, the youngest member of the U.S. Freeskiing Team at age 14, qualified first in slopestyle with a huge switch trick and solid grabs.
Thursday’s men’s qualifying ski slopestyle contest was led by Indiana 19-year-old Nick Goepper, who rode without poles as he recovered from a hand injury. Denver’s Bobby Brown qualified fifth. Telluride buddies Kolby Ward and two-sport skier Gus Kenworthy eked into Sunday’s slopestyle finals in 15th and 16th place.
Brown was aiming for the rare – and typically golden – triple cork on the final hit of his second run but bailed at the last minute, stomping a clean double instead.
“Luckily my first run held up,” Brown said. “I’m definitely going to change a lot of stuff for the finals and give a little harder, you know.”
- Dew Tour at Breckenridge starts march toward Sochi Games (denverpost.com)
- Shaun White Finishes First In Halfpipe Qualifying In Breckenridge (denver.cbslocal.com)
- Skiers, snowboarders swarm Summit County for Olympic dreams (denverpost.com)
- Kelly Clark off to strong start in Olympic quest (sportsillustrated.cnn.com)