Return of the slope: After last year’s weather woes, Austria’s Gasser wins Dew Tour women’s snowboard slopestyle
Women’s ski superpipe
1. Rachel Karker, CAN 87.33
2. Cassie Sharpe, CAN 84.67
3. Devin Logan, USA 71.00
Women’s snowboard slopestyle
1. Anna Gasser, AUT 177.67
2. Julia Marino, USA 170.66
3. Enni Rukajarvi, FIN 169.67
Team snowboard challenge
1. DC 254.33
2. Capita 245.67
3. Rome 230.33
Saturday’s Dew Tour schedule
Men’s snowboard superpipe 10:30-11:30 a.m.
Men’s ski slopestyle noon-3 p.m.
‘Girls Who Ride’ Streetstyle 3-4:30 p.m.
Streetstyle open to public noon to 7 p.m.
Friday’s Dew Tour women’s snowboard slopestyle event was a competition 10 months in the making. Did it ever deliver.
Back in February at the Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the world’s best women’s snowboard slopestyle riders had their qualification round canceled. Days later, Olympic officials chose to send each rider down the course despite ravaging winds. Some decided not to drop in. Of the 25 who did, only five made it down their first run without falling.
The following month at the next big snowboarding event, the Burton U.S. Open at Vail Mountain, the final round was canceled due to more challenging winds.
Which brings us to Friday at Breckenridge Ski Resort. There was nary a whisper of wind when the world’s top riders, such as Austria’s Anna Gasser and the U.S.’ Julia Marino, dropped in. On top of it, bluebird skies served as a close-to-perfect backdrop for the competition, allowing the world’s best women riders to showcase progressive tricks they’ve been honing for more than a year.
“Last year, with nearly every single contest we got super unlucky with the weather,” Marino said. “Almost every event we had there was wind of some kind or snow or something.”
At the head of that progression is the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic big air gold medalist Gasser. Just last month at the Stubai glacier in her home country, Gasser became the first woman ever to land a triple cork — a move that requires an athlete to execute three inversions.
The triple cork, though, was the last thing Gasser thought about on Friday. The jumps weren’t big enough and Gasser already had a slopestyle run she wasn’t able to showcase throughout last year’s oft-canceled Olympic process.
So on Friday at the Dew Tour she quickly seized control of the slopestyle competition with a massive three-jump run that included a cab underflip 900 (two-and-a-half horizontal rotations) with a mute grab, a back-side cork 1080 with a melon grab and a front-side 900 with a melon grab. The electrifying run earned Gasser a score of 96.67 on the jumps portion of the course, more than 10 points ahead of her next closest competitor, 2018 slopestyle gold medalist Jamie Anderson of the U.S.
If it wasn’t for the weather, Gasser said things would have been different.
“My confidence is way higher when the weather is good,” she said. “I think if the weather wouldn’t have been this great I couldn’t have done the run I did today. And I really wanted to do this run for such a long time. I feel like last year I didn’t have the chance.”
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In the jibs portion of the course, Gasser punctuated her dominant performance with a score of 81.00, which gave her the winning combined score of 177.67.
During the jibs, Marino stormed back after a jumps score of 80.66 to ultimately take second place. She earned that spot on the podium via a 90.00-point rail run that included a lipslide 270 out on the Stanley rail, followed by a front boardslide to fakie, followed by a half-cab bump, to a gap to lipslide, finishing off with a 50-50 frontside 360 off the Mountain Dew rail.
“It is really cool to see women’s snowboarding come this far,” Marino said. “I feel like nobody thought it would go as far as it has.”
Canada’s Karker wins ski pipe
Estonian star Kelly Sildaru, who won Thursday’s ski slopestyle competition, elected not to compete on the slopestyle-like modified superpipe due to a mildly bruised knee suffered during practice Thursday.
With the 16-year-old Sildaru out, Canadian Rachel Karker stole the show on the modified pipe, topping her fellow Canadian star Cassie Sharpe 87.33 to 84.67. American veteran and another rider familiar with slopestyle, Devin Logan, took third place with a score of 71.00.
After dialing in her superpipe run during a pair of four-hour practice sessions earlier this week, Karker’s main focus was keeping speed through the atypical pipe. Karker ultimately decided on a line that included hitting the right side of the shark fin spine feature at the top of the course before executing two flares and a 900 in the pipe.
“Then I had to pretty much bomb the rest of the pipe to make it off of that hit at the end,” Karker said. “Because that was my biggest struggle to try to make that. I cased it so many times (in practice), it hurt. So I pretty much had to attack it straight from there.”
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For the 2018 Pyeongchang halfpipe gold medalist Sharpe, Friday’s competition was a step outside of her comfort zone. Sharpe said the first few days of hitting the modified pipe’s slopestyle-like jumps was rough for her, as she hadn’t been on features like that in years. But once she got the hang of the transitions and pumping the landings, it became more fun.
Still, Sharpe said she brought some jitters into the competition. She even forgot to strap in her ski boots before dropping in on one of her hits, resulting in a nasty-looking crash at the top of the pipe wall.
“Honestly, it didn’t hurt that much,” Sharpe said. “It maybe hurt my ego a little bit. … This whole thing rattled me, took me off of my game. And you really have to think differently. And just doing up your boots at the top of the run is a basic thing you do. So I was more mad at myself that I had forgotten to do that, than in pain.”
DC wins team snowboard
The trio of American teen rising-star Toby Miller, Norwegian star Mons Roisland and Belgian star Sebbe De Buck led DC Snowboards to a win in the six-brand team challenge on Friday, topping second place Capita 254.33 to 245.67.
Miller continued his torrid snowboard riding on the modified superpipe Friday after his strong second-place finish at last week’s Copper Mountain Resort Grand Prix. Miller earned a score of 80.00 on the strength of a lawn dart-style front flip off of the shark fin feature at the top of the pipe.
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In the slopestyle jumps portion, Roisland’s score of 87.00 was the highest of the six teams. It came by way of a cab 1080 with a tail grab, a switch 1260 with a mute grab and a frontside 1440 with an Indy grab.
To round things out for DC in the jibs portion, De Buck’s 87.33 sewed up the win for DC.
Japanese teen star Takeru Otsuka put down the best jibs run. Trading places with Red Gerard — who competed for Burton in the jumps portion — the 17-year-old Otsuka stomped an eye-opening run. It consisted of a 270 on to 270 off, a backside 180 to switch 50-50 to switchback 180, a butter across the bump, a 50-50 transfer to nose-slide pretzel and a 50-50 transfer to a boardslide 270 out.
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