Breckenridge gearing up for weekend of high-flying events |

Breckenridge gearing up for weekend of high-flying events

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Summit Daily/Mark Fox

The way things are shaping up thus far, the first stop of the 2009-10 Winter Dew Tour is going to belong to the world’s top freeskiers.

With the likes of Simon Dumont, Byron and Jossi Wells, Colby West, Sammy Carlson, Charles Gagnier, Duncan Adams and Peter Olenick set to compete, nearly every top name in elite-level freeskiing will be at Breckenridge this week.

And considering their sport has yet to be added to the Olympics, the Dew Tour is one of the highlights of the season for freeskiers.

“It’s the X Games and the Dew Tour that are the top ones,” Dumont said in a phone interview last week. “The X Games is tough because you get only one chance; it’s just one competition. The Dew Tour, though, has three stops and three competitions.”

Although, the events of the week are certainly not limited to those hitting tricks on skis.

The Dew Tour, which is a three-part, multi-sport series, consists of six official events: men’s and women’s snowboard halfpipe, men’s and women’s snowboard slopestyle, men’s freeski halfpipe and men’s freeski slopestyle.

Some athletes consider the Dew Tour format to be the future of winter action sports. Breckenridge boarder and two-time X Games medalist Steve Fisher is one of them.

“As far as competitive snowboarding goes, that is a great example of what a series should be,” Fisher told the Daily. “To me, it’s kind of on par to what the PGA Tour does or the NASCAR series does, because people will actually follow it (all year) and be more involved in snowboarding.”

The series aspect of it helps, but it’s the names like Fisher, Mason Aguirre, Scotty Lago and Elijah Teter that really make the Dew Tour what it is.

However, this year’s group of pipe riders isn’t going to have the same luster as a season ago. And it all comes down to 4 feet. That is, the halfpipe used for Dew Tour competitions is 18-feet high, compared to the new Olympic standard of 22 feet.

Some athletes, like Fisher, don’t feel this is in any way a knock against the Dew Tour, as just a year ago, the 18-foot pipe was the standard of snowboard course progression.

But just as quickly as the sport’s newest tricks change with the new season, the pipes do as well.

With most riders’ focus on making the Olympic team, certain athletes have decided to skip any event without a 22-foot pipe. So, Shaun White, Louie Vito, Danny Kass and Gretchen Bleiler have all withdrawn from the Breck Dew Tour stop. According to Nicole Mancusco with Alli Sports, which runs the Dew Tour, Olympic gold medalists Kelly Clark and Hannah Teter were still slated to compete as of Wednesday night. However, it’s rumored that both women may withdraw.

Fortunately for those planning to attend this weekend, those are only a handful of the top winter athletes expected to compete this week.

In snowboard slopestyle, veteran Norwegian rider and back-to-back X Games gold medalist Andrea Wiig is going to compete, as is Finn Janne Korpi.

On the women’s side, Australian sensation Torah Bright is slated to make a start, and Canadian Spencer O’Brien, who won last year’s season-long Dew Tour slope title, will be there as well.

Also, as last year’s men’s snowboard slopestyle competition proved, many of the athletes going through open qualifying – which took place Wednesday and today – could make an impact on the final shakeout of the week’s events. Last season, Mikkel Bang of Norway made it through the qualifying to finish second to only Shaun White in slopestyle.

This year is sure to provide the same drama.

All preliminary rounds for each event begin on Friday, with the men’s and women’s snowboard and men’s ski pipe finals set for Saturday. All slopestyle finals are Sunday.

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