Dew Tour welcomes a new era with friends, family and fresh powder galore
BRECKENRIDGE — Suzanne Wickham doesn’t make it to every last contest her granddaughter is in, but when she competes at Dew Tour, there’s no excuse to miss it.
“This is a natural, but I live-stream them all if I can’t make it,” said Wickham, who traveled from Santa Fe to Breckenridge to see her 17-year-old granddaughter, Maggie Voisin, compete in the individual ski slopestyle. “Her attitude is just absolutely incredible. She’s upbeat all the time, whether she’s hitting it or not. She always wanted to ski with the guys but they wouldn’t let her.”
Just before 11 a.m. on Friday morning, Wickham was standing solo at the base of the big-air jump with a simple, handmade sign reading “Maggie” in bright-red marker on a white background. Her granddaughter had just completed the second of her four total runs on the slopestyle jump, and although Wickham has seen her compete dozens of times — including a trip to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics — it still makes her nervous every time.
“I’m proud as can be, but I’m always a wreck,” Wickham laughed as other skiers lofted over the jump and sprayed into the finish area. She might be a wreck, but she knows what to look for: Voisin’s first jump was the best, her grandma said, but the second and third were a little iffy. She needed a pinpoint fourth hit to slide up the standings and earn a comfy spot before the women’s ski jib contest today.
As Wickham watched and waited and worried for her granddaughter, the flakes started falling harder and thicker. It was the story of day one at Dew Tour: Could pros win the battle against unrelenting snowfall and flat light? It might be pretty, she said, but it’s not the best for sessions on a 65-foot jump.
“I love it — this weather is picture perfect,” Wickham said while another skier, Kaya Turski of Canada, landed to applause from the small but dedicated audience. “It was like a Christmas card walking through town last night.”
Then, the moment of truth came. Wickham looked to the jump just in time to see Voisin spin an enormous off-axis 720 and land with a whomp, her skis almost perfectly parallel and knees hardly bent. It was the final jump she needed: Voisin ended the day in third overall behind Turski in second and 14-year-old Kelly Sildaru in first.
After the loudspeaker announced the final standings, a relieved Voisin skated over to her just-as-relieved grandma, gave her a hug and then posed for photos.
“Now I just have to ski the rails,” Voisin said. “Dangit.”
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Bred in Breck
Not far from Wickham was another lone spectator, Aldona Vaitekunas, a native of Washington, D.C. who lived in Denver for 16 years before making the move to Breckenridge this summer. She was waiting for her roommate, longtime local ski pro Keri Herman, to take her first few runs on the slopestyle jump.
“It’ll never get old for me,” Vaitekunas said of Dew Tour, an event she visited regularly long before moving in with Herman. “I just love being out here, being part of this atmosphere.”
The two have only lived together for about six months, but they’ve already become fast friends. Vaitekunas joined Herman for the Powder Magazine awards on Thursday night and couldn’t miss the chance to spend a Friday on the snow. It only helped her roommate was duking it out for Dew Tour glory.
“I always have such a good time out here, but now, these days, it’s because I have a direct connection to Keri,” Vaitekunas said. “I think that’s why we get along: I don’t go all google-eyed over her being a pro.”
That’s how it seems to go in Breckenridge. On any given day, you might run into a pro like Keri Herman or Bobby Brown or Eric Willett on the slopes, or maybe just grabbing a bite on Main Street. They’re the best at what they do, but it hardly means they’re untouchable superstars. Sometimes, one of them even becomes your roommate.
“I used to ski, but when I came out here I knew it was time to try snowboarding,” Vaitekunas said. “It doesn’t really matter anymore, the difference between them. Everyone here seems to be part of the same culture.”
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