Dew Tour pros talk team rivalries before the new, improved tour Dec. 8-11 | SummitDaily.com

Dew Tour pros talk team rivalries before the new, improved tour Dec. 8-11

Editor’s note: As of Thursday there’s a new schedule for Dew Tour. Check out the details.

When Burton pro Zak Hale rolls through the Dew Tour streetstyle course in the heart of downtown Breckenridge, he'll go up against the same guy he hangs with for Sunday Night Football.

Hale, a 24-year-old veteran who spends most of his time filming for sponsors like Burton, Monster Energy and Skullcandy, is making his debut appearance at the streetstyle jib event, held under the holiday lights in the heart of Main Street on Friday, Dec. 9. He'll be joined by four fellow urban destroyers, including Chris Grenier, the buddy who has him over for football most Sundays in their current home state of Utah. All told, they're five of the worlds best on urban jibs — think custom features like raised ledges, staircases with down bars, 20-foot drops and more — and each one is competing for a fat cash purse.

But will cash and acclaim make the streetstyle contest cutthroat, like the heated primetime NFL games Hale and Grenier catch every Sunday evening? Hardly.

"With whatever contest — halfpipe, slopestyle, anything — you never want to think about anyone but yourself," said Hale, who stepped away from slopestyle and traditional contests early in his career. "I think that's when things start to go to your head a bit. The atmosphere of the industry is competitive, but at the end of the day everyone is friends."

Diet Dew?

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Hale's laid-back approach to the streetsyle contest is this year's Dew Tour in a nutshell: wild, competitive, progressive and, in the end, just a bunch of skiers and snowboarders having a damn good time for the crowd.

"We're making some pretty major moves to evolve and reimagine in our first year," said Adam Cozens, vice president and general manager of Dew Tour with the event's new production company, TEN: The Enthusiast Network. "This year, you'll see how we make sure this event is accessible and open and interesting to the greater audience, while still staying relevant to that core audience."

Earlier this summer, TEN and Cozens' team took control of Dew Tour. Their goal: breathe fresh life into the fist major freeski and snowboard event of the winter. Mother Nature didn't always cooperate when time got tight — the proposed modified superpipe contest was nixed less than two weeks before the first day of competition — but, thanks to welcome snowfall and cold temperatures in late November and early December, the new production company wasn't forced to cancel the contest outright.

Instead, TEN is getting creative in response to conditions and, as Cozens explains, an audience that wants more from Dew Tour. That means a traditional TV recap, which airs Dec. 17 and Dec. 24 on NBC, along with adaptive snowboard races, day-of online streaming, a sweeping social media campaign and ties to TEN's other properties, like the Transworld Snowboarding Riders' Poll Awards party, now scheduled to make its public Breck debut at the Riverwalk Center right after the streetstyle contest.

"Previously, this was more of a made-for-TV franchise," Cozens said. "Now, it's remade for today's media landscape. We reimagined the whole thing, from the courses to the comp formats to the overall look and feel. It's been pretty significant."

Snow rivalries

The biggest and most exciting change for Cozens is the brand-new team format. On Saturday and Sunday, six teams of three athletes each (ski and snowboard) compete on the slopestyle and jib courses. The team with the best combined score at the end takes home the first-ever Dew Tour Team Champion title.

The format is eerily similar to the long-gone Transworld Team Challenge event — it was Cozen's baby when he was publisher at the magazine — and has already proven successful: Earlier this year for summer Dew Tour in California, TEN introduced a team skateboarding contest with vert and street.

But who makes the team? Simple enough: brands managers. On the snowboard side are Burton, Ride, Salomon, DC Shoes, Nitro and Lib Tech. On the ski side are Head, Armada, Faction, K2, Atomic and Volkl.

"You look at the landscape of competitive ski and snowboarding, and you have great franchises," Cozens said. "You have X Games, you have the U.S. Open — these really strong events — and we knew that in order to take the next step, to add progression to the comp format, the team format made sense."

For the athletes, the team format is a welcome change of pace. Tanner McCarty, team manager for Ride Snowboards, says his team athletes rarely (if ever) enter big-name contests, and instead spend their winters filming. The new Dew gives his jibber, Reed Smith, and jumper, Brandon Davis, exposure to a wider audience, and veteran team captain Jake Welch ties it all together.

"You now have a brand to root for at Dew Tour," McCarty said. "Again, this will be different because you have three friends getting together for a contest, but it's not that different because they're always out snowboarding together. It's an individual sport, but you're never by yourself."

The teams and riders might all be friends at the end of the day, but the concept is already inspiring rivalries.

"I want to beat Lib Tech," McCarty said. "There will be some good brands and good dudes out there, so you know it will be a good contest."

Slopestyle served 2 ways

Dew Tour hasn't completely shunned individual events, with men's and women's ski and snowboard slopestyle held Friday, Saturday and Sunday on a modified course. Like the canceled superpipe contest, the modified slope course was half planned, half forced. TEN's original plans called for three separate sections — jibs, jumps and jibs again — but low snowfall means this year's slopestyle features a single, big air-style jump and a jib section. Athletes take four runs on the jump and three runs on the jibs. Judges then add their best two jump scores and best single jib score to crown overall winners.

Red Gerard, the 16-year-old phenom from Silverthorne who took fifth in snowboard slopestyle last season, returns this year with a deep bag of tricks: inverted 1260s, backside 1440s, maybe even something crazy he won't talk about. He's only competing in the solo event — there's little crossover between team and individual competitors — and says the two-part format is harder than a traditional slope course.

"It's not easier, not at all," Gerard said of the modified format. "It's a little harder, actually. There's more pressure to perform. You can nail your rail run, but then you also have to land those jumps. It's more true snowboarding, for sure."

The complete athlete list hasn't yet been released, but early previews show it's deep. Expect to see ski slopestyle veterans like Breck's Bobby Brown and Keri Herman, along with snowboard slope specialists like Gerard, Chas Guldemond, Jamie Anderson and Mark McMorris.

In the street

Oddly enough, streetstyle is one of the few events TEN didn't revamp for the new Dew. But, then again, the course itself has changed every year since it debuted in 2012. Burton pro Darcy Sharpe has won the past three years, with pitch-perfect control and smooth style on the Main Street course.

If Hale has anything to say about it, though, Sharpe's reign is about to end. He doesn't often compete for spectators, but he still feeds off the energy at events like Big Bear Resort's Hot Dawgz and Hand Rails in September, where he won in 2015.

"Everyone loves being in the middle of the crowd, being the center of attention," Hale said. "I feed off of it when there are a bunch of people. You have to push your snowboarding in a way — you can't just show up and phone it in."

The key to a streetstyle crown: a perfect line, not just a perfect single trick.

"I think this course will be more about linking things together instead of just hitting one feature," Hale said. "I do way better in contests that are looking at your overall consistency, rather than just nailing one trick and winning."

2016 Dew Tour schedule

All contests are free and open to the public. The on-mountain Dew Tour Experience (aka expo village) is open Friday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Peak 8 base. For more info, including invited athletes and videos, see dewtour.com.

Wednesday, Dec. 7

8-11:30 a.m. — Ski slopestyle practice

Noon to 3 p.m. — Snowboard slopestyle practice

Thursday, Dec. 8

8-11:30 a.m. — Snowboard slopestyle practice

Noon to 3 p.m. — Ski slopestyle practice

7:15 p.m. — Powder Magazine Powder Awards, Riverwalk Center

Friday, Dec. 9

9:45-10:30 a.m. — Women’s snowboard slopestyle jump finals, Peak 8

11 a.m. to noon — Women’s adaptive banked slalom finals, Springmeier

11:15 a.m. to noon — Women’s snowboard jib finals, Peak 8

1:15-2:30 p.m. — Men’s adaptive banked slalom finals, Springmeier

12:45-1:30 p.m. — Women’s ski slopestyle jump finals, Peak 8

2:15-3 p.m. — Women’s ski slopestyle jib finals, Peak 8

6-6:45 p.m. — Snowboard streetstyle comp, Main Street Breckenridge

7-7:45 p.m. — Ski streetstyle comp, Main Street Breckenridge

8:30 p.m. — Transworld Snowboarding Riders’ Poll Awards, Riverwalk Center

Saturday, Dec. 10

9:15-10:30 a.m. — Men’s individual snowboard slopestyle jump finals, Peak 8

11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. — Men’s individual snowboard jib finals, Peak 8

1:30-2 p.m. — Men’s team ski jump finals, Peak 8

2:30-3 p.m. — Men’s team ski jib finals, Peak 8

5 p.m. — Ski and snowboard film screenings, Blue Stag Saloon

6 p.m. — Concert with Joey BadA$$, A-Trak, D.R.A.M., Riverwalk Center

Sunday, Dec. 11

9:45-10:30 a.m. — Men’s individual ski slopestyle jump finals, Peak 8

11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. — Men’s individual ski jib finals, Peak 8

1:30-2 p.m. — Men’s team snowboard jump finals, Peak 8

2:30-3 p.m. — Men’s team snowboard jib finals, Peak 8