Summit’s Gold to join White and Josey in the Dew Tour superpipe finals
After a cold and blustery day on the first day of the Winter Dew Tour, the second day Thursday, Dec. 16, was bluebird with some wind coming from the southwest.
The wind ended up postponing the men’s snowboard slopestyle qualifier for the second consecutive day because of gusts near the top of Copper Mountain Resort. The slopestyle competition, which will feature Summit talent Red Gerard, has yet to be rescheduled.
The wind did not prevent competition in the men and women’s snowboard superpipe or the men’s ski slopestyle competitions.
In the women’s snowboard superpipe qualifier, Americans Maddie Mastro and Chloe Kim got off to a slow starts as favorites in the competition. Mastro fell on her first run, scoring only 32 points. Mastro immediately headed back to the top of the superpipe, eager to perform better on her second run.
Kim, on the other hand, scored a moderate 75.75 but knew she would need to score higher in her last run if she wanted to make the finals.
Both Mastro and Kim executed on their final runs, catapulting into first and second place, respectively, in the qualifiers.
Mastro threw down a near-perfect run to score a 92.75. She immediately exchanged hugs with friends and family at the base of the superpipe with a sense of relief on her face.
Kim scored a 91.25 to join Mastro in the finals Sunday, Dec. 19.
In the men’s snowboard superpipe qualifier, the field featured 23 men, 11 of which are American. Among the Americans were five Coloradans, with three from the Summit County area.
Summit County local Chase Blackwell was looking to perform better than last weekend, when he missed the finals at the U.S. Grand Prix. On Thursday, Blackwell looked shaky on his first run, losing speed in the superpipe and scoring a 40.50.
Blackwell was followed by Taylor Gold, who hails from Steamboat Springs but lives and trains in Summit County. Gold was the top American at last week’s U.S. Grand Prix and was looking to top that performance at Dew Tour. Gold threw together a first run consisting of a frontside 1080, an iconic McTwist and a 1260. Gold earned 81.25 to be in third after the completion of the first round.
Chase Josey also had a good first run, earning a 79.25. Frisco native Ryan Wachendorfer took a spill on his first run, earning a score of 22.25.
Shaun White, who recently announced that the 2022 Winter Olympics will be his last, came up short on his first run of the day, falling while trying to execute a double McTwist 1260. White scored only 27.50, meaning he would need to go big on his next run in order to qualify for the final.
The competition took a step up on the second round of runs.
“I think all this year that the competition heats up in the second round of runs,” Taylor Gold said. “The Olympics bring the best out of people, and it makes it harder to get into the finals.”
A trio of Japanese athletes — Ayumu Hirano, Ruka Hirano and Yuto Totsuka — were no exception. The three all improve their scores from their first runs to overtake the first three spots in the qualifiers. Hirano put down a nearly perfect run to score high with a 94.
The performances from the Japanese talent made it harder for the rest of the field to qualify for the final.
Blackwell knew he had to go big on his final run of the day, and he ended up falling, finishing in 17th.
Gold’s final run was very similar to his first. This time, Gold threw together a McTwist, a frontside 1260 and a Michalchuk. Gold improved his score slightly to 81.50, leaving him nervous as he awaited the completion of the second round of runs.
“I wanted to compete well going into today and land some good tricks,” Gold said. “I was happy with both my runs, but perhaps an extra trick could have put me in a more comfortable position.”
In the end, Gold had nothing to worry about. He finished in seventh place and moved onto the finals Sunday. Josey finished right in front of Gold in sixth with a good last run bolstered by a frontside 1260 to score 82.50.
Before White’s last run of the day, the crowd quieted as they waited for him to play to his strengths and hopefully earn a spot in the final. White did just that, throwing down a frontside 540 to set himself up for a properly executed double McTwist 1260.
White was overcome with emotion, falling to his knees as the judges announced he scored 85.75, which was enough for him to finish fourth in the qualifiers. He will be joined by teammates Josey, Gold and Joey Okesson in the final.
In the men’s ski slopestyle competition, Colby Stevenson of Park City highlighted the event, scoring an 89.25 to take first place in the qualifiers. Teammate Alex Hall, also from Park City, will join Stevenson in the final, placing seventh with an 82.50. The men’s ski slopestyle final is scheduled to take place Friday, Dec. 17.
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