Deja Dew: Scotty James, Chase Josey, Toby Miller go 1-2-3 on modified pipe week after finishing on Copper podium | SummitDaily.com

Deja Dew: Scotty James, Chase Josey, Toby Miller go 1-2-3 on modified pipe week after finishing on Copper podium

After years of athletes progressing freeskiing and snowboarding, maybe it's time the competition venues do their part?

That certainly seems to be the common thread at this year's Dew Tour at Breckenridge Ski Resort. On Saturday morning, the men's snowboard modified superpipe competition provided the kind of forward-looking creativity so many were hoping for when the decision was made to merge slopestyle-like features into a halfpipe.

"I think this event was a great one for snowboarding," said Chase Josey, who finished in second place, "showcasing just where the sport can go and how much creative flows these snowboarders can ride in. The course design was really cool."

"This definitely was an event for — a test to see how halfpipe riders could compete in an all-around event," said rising teen star Toby Miller, who finished in third place.

In the end, the Californian Miller and the Idahoan Josey were joined for the second weekend in a row on the podium by Australian star Scotty James. Seven days after James, Miller and Josey went 1-2-3 at the traditional Copper Mountain Resort Grand Prix halfpipe competition, they went 1-3-2 in Breckenridge.

That's just about where the similarities between the two weeks ended, though. In fact, for James, his ability to top nine of the world's other best halfpipe snowboarders was a relative surprise — especially considering he wasn't able to piece together a full run through the modified superpipe all week during practice.

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James also said dialing in his run through the modified superpipe this week was interesting. That's because the 2018 Olympic halfpipe gold medalist, at first, was focusing a little too much on the nontraditional halfpipe features at the top and the bottom of the course. Those included: a shark fin side-hit feature at the top of the course that dropped riders into a slopestyle-type landing, a flattened bottom of the pipe into a slopestyle-type tombstone landing and, to round out the course, a choice of hip hits.

"It was really different, so you kind of had to use a little bit of natural talent in there as well," James said. "Not everything was done before we rode, and we had to just kind of wish for the best a little bit at times. I quite enjoyed that."

James took home the Dew Tour title with a run that began with a switch back-side rodeo on that shark fin feature. He then combined a switch back-side 1080, a back-side 1260 and a front-side 1080 through the pipe portion of the course. Then came what he said was the toughest part of the course: the exit out of the pipe. James landed a switch 540 onto the tombstone before concluding his run with a massive method air on one of the hip hits. James went so big that he nearly ran out of room to stop his speed in the corral at the bottom of the course. He gasped for air at the end of the longer-than-usual course, as his score of a 93.33 came in.

"It's way longer," said Miller, who took second place with a score of 84.33. "You are doing a lot more riding than you are doing in a traditional halfpipe.

Miller concurred with James that the tombstone feature exiting the halfpipe was "by far" the most difficult feature.

"It was so tricky because if you didn't clear it perfectly," Miller said, "you didn't have speed for the hit after. Or it'd mess up your line going into that final feature. And that was what was so creative about this event. Once you are done with a halfpipe ride, you're done. Where, in this, you had to do two to three more tricks, and I think that was challenging for a lot of people."

 

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Both Miller and Josey said they dialed in their runs during yesterday's snowboard team challenge event. Miller for the second day in a row stood out on the shark fin feature at the top, choosing again to drop into the pipe via a lawndart-like front flip.

Josey, like James, said there was a mental element of making it through the modified course. Josey impressed judges with his typically inventive 88.33-point run that featured a blind landing inside the pipe on a switch double Michalchuk.

"Finding that line that's going to work and being as smooth and consistent as possible," Josey said, "our first two days practicing here, I think everyone was struggling, questioning what they were going to do and how they were going to piece it together. … I kept the same line knowing that was working, and it was really cool to be as creative as possible.

James through his youth years rode and competed in the U.S. alongside Josey at both halfpipe and slopestyle events. Standing on the podium next to Josey provided James with nostalgia of those years, when their younger selves didn't limit themselves to one event.

Now, as they are both in their 20s, James described the modified pipe as a "snowboarder's event." It was the kind of course built for consistently elite halfpipe riders who also know how to handle the slope transitions in the most pressure-packed of moments.

"It was definitely gripping," James said.

Canada's McEachran wins ski slopestyle

The changes to the course and what that allowed for athletes to do was also the main talking point after Saturday afternoon's men's ski slopestyle competition.

Canadian Evan McEachran won the contest on the strength of a huge score of 94.67 in the jib section of the course, which followed up his 94.00 on the jump section, for a total of 187.34. He managed that score despite the taller-than-usual rail features which didn't have skirts underneath them — a scary sight for some skiers.

 

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McEachran's winning run consisted of a right 270 on and 270 off of the wall feature, and a switch 720 tail tap on the Mountain Dew cylinder feature that distinguished him from other competitors.

For McEachran and his podium mates, Alex Hall of Park City (second, 184.00) and Henrik Harlaut of Sweden (third, 181.67), the trio all agreed separating the jump and jib portions into two different sections encouraged more creativity on the rails. They also felt it made sure the judges rewarded the rails equally compared to the jumps.

"You don't have to carry speed to the jump sections," McEachran said. "… You can get way more technical on them."

"Even for myself," Harlaut added, "I feel like sometimes in the past I have chosen a little bit of an easier rail run just to make it through. Definitely there is more priority toward rails more and more every year."

 

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The separation between the two sections also influenced strategy and the mental aspect of the game, as skiers had the opportunity to reassess after their jump runs. Hall led after a jump run that included a left double-cork 1260 stalefish, a switch left double-cork 1440 seatbelt and a switch right double-cork 1260 reverse mute. Harlaut bumped up from fifth place after the jumps to the podium via a rail section that included a left 450 pretzel 270, a switch blender tails-on nollie front 270, a switch left tail butter 540, a right 450 to switch and a switch left 270 continuing 450.

"It went through my mind a good amount," McEachran said, "trying to assess scores and add scores. But I realized how good everyone is nowadays, it's not worth trying to do strategy. You pretty much have to ski as hard as you can at every feature."

Men’s snowboard superpipe

1. Scotty James, AUS 93.33

2. Chase Josey, USA 88.33

3. Toby Miller, USA 84.33

Men’s ski slopestyle

1. Evan McEachran, CAN 187.34

2. Alex Hall, USA 184.00

3. Henrik Harlaut, SWE 181.67

Sunday’s Dew Tour schedule

Men’s ski superpipe 9:15-10:15 a.m.

Streetstyle open to public 10 a.m. to noon

Women’s snowboard superipe 10:45-11:30 a.m.

Men’s snowboard slopestyle noon to 3 p.m.

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