The Outsider: Welcome to the wild world of Dew Tour
It’s safe to say that Breckenridge now has the highest number of Olympians per capita in the world.
I don’t quite have solid numbers to back that up, but when 150-plus athletes came to Peak 8 for Dew Tour this week, roughly 75 came with Olympic experience. That includes big-name American veterans like Shaun White, Danny Davis, Kelly Clark and David Wise, plus a slew of youngsters like Aaron Blunck from Crested Butte and Gus Kenworthy from Telluride. Then there are the international superstars, guys like Canada’s Mark McMorris and Max Parrot, Switzerland’s Christian Haller, France’s Kevin Rolland, Russia’s Iouri Podladtchikov (also known as I Pod) and more than 15 athletes from Japan, including 17-year-old phenom Ayumu Hirano. Every year it seems like the freestyle ski and snowboard circuit becomes more global, and that can only be a good thing for the competition.
But, just because someone comes to Dew Tour with an Olympic pedigree doesn’t mean the young and hungry unknowns will graciously step out of the way. Just look at the snowboard halfpipe semifinal from Thursday. Shaun White laid down a stellar first run with huge spins, major amplitude and plenty of signature strength to finish in first, but he barely edged out Steamboat Springs youngster Taylor Gold, the defending Dew Tour halfpipe champ of just 22 years old. He missed the Olympic cut in 2014, just like Ben Ferguson, the 20-year-old Oregon native who edged into third at the semi with an impressive second run. Expect both to give White a run for his megastar money at today’s final, which kicks off at 12:30 p.m.
Missing from the finals start list is Danny Davis, who slid out in both of his first runs yet still managed to earn a spot in the Last Chance Qualifier. For anyone new to Dew, the LCQ is an ingenious way to give athletes (and spectators) one last look at the best of the best. After the semis ended and 10 competitors were locked in, the athletes in positions 10 through 20 vied for the two remaining starts. Davis was first to drop, beginning as he typically does with a massive switch method.
And that’s when things got sketchy. Davis tweaked it out, as usual, but then flailed on his transition back into the pipe, losing speed before his second hit. He struggled to regain composure and muscled his way through another two hits before finally sliding out on a whip-fast, uncharacteristically low, inverted 1080.
When Davis reached the bottom — Gold, Ferguson and a few other pros were watching like a jam session — he hung his head for a second, then asked, “Do I get another? Or is that really the last one?”
Yes, someone said, that was really his last chance to make the finals. Davis was noticeably disappointed, hung his head again and then headed back to the base, his chance for a fourth Dew Tour medal put on hold for another season.
Say what you will about Davis, but it was cool in a weird, unfortunate sort of way to see that he was disappointed enough to want just one last run, even after his one last run was over. It’s the “core” mentality people use to describe Dew Tour. This is the first event of the season, time for athletes to reconnect with friends they haven’t seen since last April and time for spectators to get stoked on the competitions to come.
If you haven’t been to Breck yet this week, head on out. Sure, the crowds are unwieldy and the skiing isn’t spectacular, but your chances of an Olympic encounter are nearly guaranteed. That’s more than worth it.
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