At Dew Tour’s first day, Sildaru slays slopestyle, Silverthorne’s Amy Purdy takes second in adaptive
Even freeskier Kelly Sildaru’s chief rival showers her with praise.
Last Friday, Cassie Sharpe watched as Sildaru won the World Cup halfpipe at Copper Mountain Resort. At the press conference afterward, Sharpe listened as Sildaru said she would also be aiming for wins this season in slopestyle and big air.
Sharpe’s reaction? “She’ll be winning them all, too,” she said.
Sharpe’s prophecy proved correct just six days later, at the opening event of the 2018 Dew Tour Breckenridge on Thursday morning. Sildaru soared high above her competition on the slopestyle jib and jump courses on Thursday en route to a second resounding win in less than a week in Summit County.
Sildaru, a 16-year-old from Estonia, was the only freeskier of the eight in contention on Thursday to achieve scores in the 90s. She posted a 92.00 on the jump section to take a seven-point lead. Then, in the jib section, she took it up a notch with a 93.67 on those rails.
Sildaru earned that 92.00 in the jump section by way of a three-jump run that included a right 900 tailgrab and back-to-back switch 1080s with mute grabs — each trick spinning in opposite directions.
“The level of Kelly’s riding, as everyone knows, is unbelievable,” American skier and third-place finisher Maggie Voisin said. “She pushes this sport. I think women’s freeskiing is bigger and better than ever. Having her back on the scene is going to push it that much further.”
Voisin trailed Sildaru and eventual second-place finisher Tess Ledeux of France entering the jibs portion of the competition. As if she needed it, Sildaru took total control of the overall slopestyle competition when she executed what the Dew Tour television announcers said might have been the best women’s rail run they’d ever seen.
That run came on Sildaru’s second attempt, when she pieced together a front switch-up pretzel 450 off of the Stanley rail feature, to a front switch-up continue 270, to a 360 nosedrag over the pump bump feature, to a slide front 270, before finishing with a switch left 270 pretzel 450 on the Mountain Dew jib.
Before the contest concluded, though, there was a slight scare when Sildaru didn’t come out for her third and final run, attributing it to a knee injury she suffered crashing on a rail in practice. But Sildaru was quick to reassure the fans it was a minor injury, and that she’d be able to compete in Friday morning’s modified superpipe competition. Perhaps most importantly, it was not the same knee that forced her out of the Olympic process last season.
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SILVERTHORNE’S PURDY TAKES SECOND IN ADAPTIVE
Thursday’s adaptive banked slalom event at the Dew Tour was as much a celebration as it was a competition for Silverthorne multi-time Paralympic medalist Amy Purdy and her Adaptive Action Sports program.
Purdy was riding on not only a pseudo-hometown course, but a course that ran in the family, as her husband Daniel Gale helped design and build it along with Breckenridge’s crew.
“We all kind of agree that it was one of the best banked slalom courses we ever rode on,” said Purdy, who finished in second place in the women’s competition behind Olympic gold-medal winner Brenna Huckaby from Louisiana. “It just flowed nice. It was fairly easy, so it made it fun. Sometimes we get some really rocky features in our courses that really complicate it. This just flowed really nice.”
For Purdy and Adaptive Action Sports, Thursday’s competition saw an increased number of adaptive athletes who have joined the Adaptive Action Sports program and/or relocated to Summit County with an eye on competing for the U.S. at the 2022 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China.
Purdy estimated the program has about seven new, full-time athletes in their late teens who have been training three to five times a week with Purdy’s program all over their home mountain of Copper Mountain Resort.
“It’s exciting to build the sport,” Purdy said. “To see the international field come out, compete, have fun — really this event is about being able to represent on this big platform what the possibilities are, to get more people involved. It just helps us grow our sport.”
Without Adaptive Action Sports and Purdy’s sponsor of Toyota, the Dew Tour adaptive event would not have occurred, as the two entities were the lead drivers in having the competition take place at the tour for the third consecutive year.
In the end, Huckaby won the competition with a time of 45.82 compared to Purdy’s time of 48.21. In the men’s competition, American Evan Strong (38.53) topped Finland’s Matti Suur-Hamari (38.91).
Huckaby described the banked slalom course as consistent, one where it provided riders the ability to choose their own speed. For the 22-year-old Huckaby, it was her first major action after winning a pair of gold medals en route to stealing the show at last March’s Pyeongchang Paralympics. Through the offseason, Huckaby has focused more on improving her own athleticism and strength, taking up CrossFit training on a consistent basis. Huckaby rides with an above-the-knee prosthetic on her right leg, after losing the limb to osteosarcoma cancer in 2010.
“Physically I’ve been in the gym more than I ever have,” Huckaby said. “So feeling really strong and really good. I want to be stronger to make some of these moves, to make adjustments. The stronger you are, the easier it is.”
Atomic wins ski team challenge
The first athletes to hit the Dew Tour’s new modified superpipe in competition this week were the skiers who competed in Thursday afternoon’s team challenge event.
New Zealand’s Miguel Porteous strung together a run of 82.67 on the modified pipe to give eventual champion Atomic a two-point lead over Armada heading into the slopestyle jumps and jibs portion of the contest.
Porteous got Atomic off to the head start with a switch rodeo 540 on the side-hit feature on the top of the modified superpipe course, followed by a right double-cork 1260 and a pair of 900s to finish off the pipe portion. Then, exiting the pipe, Porteous hung in the air during a massive 540 onto the tombstone feature before rounding out his run with a switch alley-oop leftside 540 on the final hip hit.
Porteous’ teammate Fabian Boesch followed up his first-place performance with a first-place showing of his own in the slopestyle jumps competitions, earning 94.00 points on the strength of a switch double-cork 1440 with a double Japan grab, a switch misty 1260 and a massive leftside double-cork 1620 on the final jump. Their teammate Gus Kenworthy of Telluride rounded out the team performance with a score of 83.67 on the jibs course.
“It’s really cool to turn up to a comp and have to come up with your run,” Porteous said, “and kind of make things up — not make things up — but get creative with lines, what hits you are doing, compared to a normal pipe contest when everyone shows up planning their run a year-out, kind of thing. … Especially the bottom feature flows really well, the exit out of the pipe into the hips at the end work real well.”
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