Americans sweep Dew Tour adaptive banked slalom podium; Dutch women go 1-2
BRECKENRIDGE — The debut of adaptive banked slalom at Dew Tour might as well have been a preview of the 2018 Winter Paralympics.
On Friday afternoon, 20 elite adaptive snowboarders from across the world converged at the top of Springmeier in Breckenridge for the event’s first-ever banked slalom. For newbies, think of banked slalom as regular slalom on steroids, held on a snake-like course filled with berms and rollers. Like its nephew, boardercross, the event adds an element of motocross-style adrenaline to the racecourse. The big difference: competitors race against the clock, not each other.
Now back to the big-name athletes in the gates. On the men’s side were Mike Shea, Evan Strong and Keith Gabel, the American trio that swept the podium for adaptive boardercross at the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi. Then there was Mike Minor, another Paralympian with multiple World Cup wins in boardercross and banked slalom, along with up-and-comers like Dustin Fleming and Alex Massie.
The women’s field was slightly smaller than the men’s — seven athletes, compared to 13 — but the competition was no less fierce. U.S. Paralympic medalist Amy Purdy was busy overseeing the course she designed with her local nonprofit, Adaptive Action Sports, and in her place were fellow Americans Brenna Huckaby and Peggy Martin.
Beginning at 11 a.m., all competitors got three runs through the banked slalom course. Judges took the fastest of three runs to crown the inaugural winners.
Men’s banked slalom
It wasn’t quite a repeat of Sochi, but it was close. Americans Shea, Strong and Minor went 1-2-3 for the men’s field. Shea was the only competitor to break the 40-second mark with a time of 39.93 on his third and final run. Strong was nearly a full second behind him at 40.05 and Minor was right on Strong’s heels at 40.23. Gabel struggled in the slow and sticky snow to end at eighth overall with a time of 42.66.
Women’s banked slalom
The Dutch are taking over adaptive banked slalom. In the women’s field, the Netherland’s Bibian Mentel and Lisa Bunschoten went 1-2 — and blew away the rest. Mentel recorded a time of 45.35 and Bunschoten came in at 45.64. The two were nearly three full seconds ahead of Huckaby in third at 48.07 and made a case for Dutch dominance this season.
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