Tour peaks at Mount Snow
Boarders, freeskiers share finale spotlight
Slopestyle and superpipe take center stage as the three-stop Winter Dew Tour wraps up this weekend at Mount Snow in West Dover, Vt. In its second year, the tour features top-flight freeskiers and snowboarders competing in the halfpipe and on a course loaded with rails and features that make it like taking a long run through a terrain park.
Slopestyle is a non-Olympic discipline but is featured in competitions like the Winter X Games, Grand Prix, and US Open.
“Slopestyle is definitely progressing,” says Brandon Reiss, a 21-year-old snowboarder from Peterborough, N.H., who is in sixth place on the tour. “There’s a high level right now. That’s how snowboarding works, keep progressing it.’’
The progression has led to a must-do trick: the off-axis double flip double cork.
“A lot of people are doing double corks now,’’ says snowboarder Sam Hulbert, 20, also from Peterborough and in ninth place. “It’s kind of scary going upside down a second time. I’m working on it and trying to get into the mix.’’
Reiss and Hulbert train together, pushing each other along the way. Reiss started riding at Pats Peak, while Hulbert ripped it up at defunct Temple. They both landed at Waterville Valley under the tutelage of coach Bill Enos, who has shaped many podium-level riders. Reiss has second-place finishes on his résumé at the Grand Prix and Vans Cup, while Hulbert has top-10 spots in the Global Open series and last year’s Dew Tour. Both made their X Games debut last weekend in Aspen, Colo., with Hulbert as an alternate and Reiss nearly qualifying for the finals.
“There’s variety to slopestyle,’’ says Hulbert. “Every course is different. You go to a new mountain, there is a new course, and you have to figure it out.’’
Reiss found slopestyle appealing because he didn’t ride in a halfpipe growing up.
“There weren’t any halfpipes,’’ Reiss says. “We would build jumps and do little things off jumps and rails.’’
Freeskier Simon Dumont, coming off fourth- and sixth-place X Games finishes, is scheduled to compete along with Peter Olenick and TJ Schiller. Snowboarders Elijah Teter (brother of Olympic gold medalist Hannah), Olympic (2002) bronze medalist JJ Thomas and Chas Guldemond, who earned a slopestyle bronze at the X Games, will be there. The snowboarding members of the 2010 US Olympic team are not competing. Two members of the Norwegian Olympic team are: Kjersti Buaas and Roger Kleivdal.
The preliminaries are today with finals tomorrow in men’s freeski slopestyle and snowboard slopestyle. Saturday is the superpipe finals. On Sunday, Peter Engen of Wellesley and Brendan Wall of Rockport are competing in the Dew Tour’s amateur series, seeking a spot on next season’s tour. There’s also a freeski big-air competition.
Cuche’s signed bib raised $16,209, and Miller’s brought in $2,504 at the event that raised more than $90,000 for the Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti.
Vonn, who already has clinched the World Cup super-G title, led all women with a bid of more than $4,000.
The bib auction, spearheaded by US racer Julia Mancuso (giant slalom gold medalist at the Turin Olympics), raised half the funds from the US with the rest coming from Austria, Italy, Germany, Belgium, France, and Switzerland.
Meanwhile, the personable 36-year-old Cuche, one of the most-liked skiers on the World Cup circuit, vows he will ski in the Vancouver Games following surgery to place a titanium plate and seven screws in his fractured thumb last week.
“I will be ready in Vancouver and can attack,’’ Cuche told reporters in Zurich.
But doctors told him it will take six weeks to stabilize the mended bone.
Cuche insists he can protect the hand, saying, “Probably some improvisation is in demand.’’
Vonn, who suffered a bone bruise to her arm in a fall in late December, told reporters in a conference call last weekend that she is “definitely in the best shape I’ve ever been in - mentally and physically prepared.’’
If her arm bruise is still a factor, she said, it will affect only her slalom, which requires a maximum push out of the starting gate.
Four years ago in Turin, Vonn competed with painful back and hip injuries that left her far short of her potential. But she did receive the Olympic Spirit award for her gritty performance.
“I’m really relieved I made it through World Cup with no injuries,’’ she said. “That is absolutely the worst thing that can possibly happen and it’s kind of been on my mind.’’
Three of Vonn’s top rivals were knocked out of the Games by recent injuries: Italy’s Nadia Fanchini, and Martina Schild and Fraenzi Aufdenblatten of Switzerland.