The big question going into Friday’s round of competition at the 2013 Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships was what would Shaun White do in snowboard slopestyle?
When the two-time Olympic superpipe gold medalist announced that he would also be gunning for a slopestyle medal when the sport is introduced at this year’s games in Sochi, Russia, critics questioned his decision to split his focus.
After staking claim to the No. 1 spot in the superpipe qualifier Thursday, White answered his doubters Friday by putting down a 93.2 on his first run in the slopestyle qualifier. The score was enough to keep him atop the leaderboard through both rounds of qualifiers.
With one round down, opting out of summer skateboarding competitions to focus on his Olympic training seems to have paid off. White’s lead sponsor, GoPro, obliged by setting him up with a private course in Australia, earlier this year.
He will look to defend his No. 1 spot in the Dew tour superpipe finals Saturday and slopestyle Sunday.
Breckenridge’s Eric “second run” Willet held onto the No. 2 spot with an 87.2 in his first run.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Willet said before his second run. “Switched up a couple things last minute in my run, but it worked out. Stoked to put down a solid run.”
With the prospect of a coveted spot on the Olympic team looming, he said, “It’s definitely in the back of my head more than I thought it would be.”
This year’s Dew Tour is the first of five stops that will be used in the U.S. Olympic team selection process for snowboard and freeski slopestyle and half-pipe. The four stops on the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix complete the five events used. The Grand Prix gets rolling next weekend with the first stop at Copper Mountain Resort.
While White was answering the big question, the U.S. women were putting on a show in the final rounds of snowboard slopestyle and skier half-pipe.
U.S. team member Maddie Bowman topped the all-U.S. podium for the half-pipe. She was joined by Angeli Van Laanen and Brita Sigourney in second and third. Jamie Anderson topped the podium in snowboard slope.
“It feels good,” Bowman said after the win. “It definitely relieves a lot of stress. These times can be pretty stressful. I’m happy to be proactive. It’s the first event of the season that I’ve done finals in and it’s great. And for it to be the first Olympic qualifier is even more is awesome. I’m just on top of the clouds right now.”
With the win, Bowman has a head start for one of the four spots on the U.S. Olympic team in her discipline.
Skier half-pipe and slopestyle will also join snowboard slopestyle as new events in this year’s games.
After a second-place finish in the half-pipe at last week’s The North Face Park and Pipe Open Series, dual-threat half-pipe and slopestyle skier Devin Logan — returning from a torn ACL — failed to make the podium Friday. She will have another chance in the women’s slopestyle finals Saturday, as part of a full day of finals competition.
Sean White and the men’s snowboarders will get things rolling with superpipe finals at 10 a.m., followed by No. 1 seeded Kelly Clark and the women’s snowboard pipe finals. Competition continues into the early evening with women’s ski slope finals and men’s ski pipe finals. The championships will wrap Sunday with men’s ski and snowboard slope finals. Up-and-commer Nick Goepper will look to hold onto the top spot in skier slopestyle.
Thursday evening’s men’s skier half-pipe results were not available at press time. A full list of results is available at www.dewtour.com