Adaptive banked slalom makes Dew Tour debut on Dec. 9 (video)
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.
Thursday, Dec. 8
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
Nothing quite compares to the feel of a banked slalom course.
“A banked slalom is a snake course — it’s very different than the alpine slalom that skiers are on — so this is more like skateboarding in a bowl,” said Amy Purdy, adaptive boardercross bronze medalist at the 2014 Winter Paralympics and co-owner of Adaptive Action Sports in Copper. “You have this g-force, this rhythm, that you get into with the course. If all of the banks are perfectly linked, they’ll slingshot from one to the other and that’s where the speed happens.”
Purdy should know. She might have won international acclaim on the boardercross course in Sochi — think of it as motocross on snow, with five athletes going head to head on the same course — but she’s just as smitten with banked slalom. And Dew Tour will attract the absolute best: 13 men and 10 women from across the nation and world.
“All of these athletes compete on the World Cup circuit and are currently competing for a spot at the next Winter Paralympics,” Purdy said of the banked slalom field. “You’ll be seeing the best of the best.”
For the past several years, Purdy and her husband, Daniel Gale, have turned Adaptive Action Sports into a breeding ground for the next generation of elite adaptive racers. Their athletes train in both disciplines, but when the nonprofit paired with Dew Tour to dream up the event’s first adaptive event, Purdy knew the wild, raucous, man-against-the-clock vibe of banked slalom perfectly fit the Dew Tour brand.
“It’s exciting for me to step back from the athlete role and get involved in designing the course,” said Purdy, who won’t be racing at the inaugural banked slalom event on Dec. 9. “It’s very integrative. We’re working on it now and just want to make it unique. That’s what Dew Tour is about: Everything is unique and creative, and we want this to be different than any other course.”
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New Dew, new slalom
The banked slalom comes to Dew Tour during an interesting year. Over the summer, a new production company, The Enthusiast Network, took over for now-defunct Alli Sports. TEN brought a revamped lineup of events to the plate, including a proposed modified superpipe and team competition for men’s ski and snowboard.
The superpipe fell through when Mother Nature didn’t cooperate, and now the solo and team slopestyle competitions will be held on just two courses: a single big air-style jump near the base of Peak 8 and a jib course inspired by urban features.
With so much new at Dew, the adaptive banked slalom races could easily get lost in the mix. But Purdy and athletes like 36-year-old Carlos Figueroa are convinced spectators will be blown away by a new and relatively unknown discipline — all built around competitors with prosthetic arms, prosthetic legs, cerebral palsy and more.
“It’s fun to see how much these sports have grown and the amount of people who are out there,” said Figuroa, a U.S. Army veteran who lost his leg after a 2003 explosion in Iraq and started training with Adaptive Action Sports this past season. “Last year, I raced a 17-year-old kid and I was thinking, ‘I’m old enough to be your father.’ It’s just fun to see how much it’s grown.”
Like all athletes at Dew Tour — Bobby Brown, Keri Herman, Red Gerard, the list goes on — adaptive banked slalom athletes keep an intense and rigourous training regimen. On a typical winter day, Figueroa wakes up around 6 a.m., gets breakfast around 6:30 a.m. and preps his board until about 8 a.m. Then, he loads the first lift of the day at 9 a.m. and takes training runs with fellow adaptive boarders until about 12:30 p.m. From there, it’s back inside for lunch and video review before heading to the gym for about two hours of training. Come nightfall, he heads home to recover and review more footage until it’s off to bed. By 6 a.m. the next morning, he’s back at it again.
“You don’t realize how many different things take place on a racecourse,” Figueroa said. “You can be fit and fast, but if you don’t have everything lined up, you will fall behind.”
Figueroa planned on competing in the Dew Tour banked slalom until two weeks before the event, when he injured his stump while working with U.S. Paralympic team coaches at The Hartford Ski Classic in Breckenridge. Although he won’t be on the course, teammates like fellow military veteran Mike Minor and X Game veteran Dustin Fleming will slide into the gates.
“It’s so exciting to have a platform like this to showcase our sport and the amazing athletes,” Purdy said. “Summit County is our home, and when such a big event is literally in our back yard, it’s incredible.”
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