Before the Dew Tour grabbed Summit County's attention, athletes were not only training, but competing at Copper Mountain in the first stop of The North Face Park and Pipe Open Series.
The event ran through Dec. 9, giving away more than $10,000 in prize money and swag awarded to top finishers, including Maddie Bowman (South Lake Tahoe, Calif.) and Mike Riddle (Whistler, British Columbia) who finished in first place.
On Dec. 8, 62 male and 23 female athletes from around the globe including the United States, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Russia and more skied in a highly competitive qualifier day. The men were divided into three heats with the top four scores in each heat moving on to the finals as well as the next top four male scores. A total of 16 men advanced to Sunday's final round. Twelve women also progressed to the finals, vying to win the first Association of Freeskiing Professionals (AFP) U.S. event of the season.
Men's champion Mike Riddle started off his winning run with a left-side double cork 1260 mute grab. He then executed a clean right-side 900 tail grab moving into a left-side 900 opposite Japan grab. An alley-oop flat spin 360 bow-and-arrow-grab led to his final trick, a switch left-side 900 mute grab. The run earned Riddle a high score of 90.
Riddle went on to Breckenridge the following week, taking his consistency and talent to contend with top finisher Justin Dorey. Riddle placed third overall in the freeski superpipe event with an 88.50 score from the judges, while Dorey scored a 93.50.
"The PPOS Finals at Copper Mountain went down amazingly well with athletes competing at a top level for any standard," said PPOS Head Judge Steele Spence with AFP. "This open series format is so important for up-and-coming freeskiers to have the opportunity to compete alongside the pros. In addition, athletes at Copper were able to earn both FIS and AFP points."
Rounding out the men's podium in second place was Peter Crook of the British Virgin Islands scoring an 86.4. U.S. Freeskiing Rookie Team athlete Aaron Blunck out of Crested Butte took the third place spot with a score of 84.6.
U.S Freeskiing team member Maddie Bowman placed herself on top of the women's podium with a run consisting of a straight-air tail grab, a left-side 900, a right-side 540, a left-side 540 mute grab, a right-side 720 and capped off her first place run with a smooth switch left-side 540 scoring a 85.8.
Anais Caradeaux of France took second place with an 81.4 followed by Angeli VanLaanen, former World Cup Superpipe Champion out of Salt Lake City, Utah, who scored an 80.8.
The North Face Park and Pipe Open Series continues throughout the 2013 season with stops at Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia, Canada (Jan. 14-17), Waterville Valley, N.H. (Feb. 23) and Northstar California Resort (March 8-10).