The Dew Tour's Nike Open at Breckenridge moved out of the pipe and concluded with a round of slopestyle contests Sunday - men's and women's snowboard and men's skiing.
After knuckling the last jump in the first run, Pittsburgh's Tom Wallisch bounced back with a score of 92.75, nearly five points better than the day's second best, Nick Goepper.
"I scrubbed a bunch of speed (on the first run) and landed pretty sloppy, so I had to step it up in my second run and clean everything up a bit," Wallisch said after the win.
His run included a pretzel 270 on the down rail, a blind 360 switch-up over the gap rails into a switch right 900 and a double cork 1080 high mute. He wrapped up the winning effort with a big 450 off the top of the wall ride and back-to-back switch double cork 1080 Japans, starting left to right.
Wallisch has been training the past four or five days between Breck and Keystone, but he spent the fall in Park City, Utah, at the U.S. Freeskiing Team's Center of Excellence as a member of the inaugural national squad.
Wallisch said he was impressed with Breck's Dew Tour park.
"It's the best every year," he said. "It's hardly ever the best weather, but man, the course is always one of the best of the year - really big jumps, good rails and just a long, flowy course. It was nice to finally have some good weather again, and it's nice to end up on top here. I'm psyched."
With a nearly five-point gap over the rest of the field, Wallisch must have done something to impress the judges. He humbly said he wasn't sure what separated his run from the other competitors but suspected it had something to do with cleaner landings.
"There are so many people out here doing the craziest, most technical runs nowadays - it's hard to stand out. But I guess the judges liked what they saw, and I'm thankful for that," Wallisch said.
Racking up the wins
Along with a gold medal at the European X Games and a couple other victories on the Dew Tour, Wallisch said the Breck win was among the most special of his career.
"I guess the goal now is to go for the Dew Cup for the first time, and that'll definitely be a career highlight, so I'm gunning for that and we'll see how the rest of the contests go," Wallisch said. "I'm just excited to have this season in full swing and it's not even Christmas yet."
Second-place finisher Goepper said Breck's Dew Tour park is the best in the world.
"I love skiing here. The park crew did an awesome job. The features were groomed to perfection. The jumps were a lot of fun. The rails were smooth, and it was an overall good time," Goepper said.
The Indiana native also will be gunning for the Dew Cup over the next two stops - something that could be within reach after Sunday's performance. He's hoping for more podium finishes and to qualify for the X Games.
Summit County resident Bobby Brown, favored by many to win the event, finished in sixth after a spill on each of his runs - an inevitable part of the sport when pushing it to the limits.
"It was cool to have the hometown crowd here. It was super fun. I didn't do as well as I wanted. I got a lot of support from Breckenridge, so there's always next time," Brown said. Brown touched down during the first run on a switch unnatural double flip and on a leftside double cork 1280 during the second lap.
"I'm just going to let it go and try to podium all the other contests," Brown said. "It's just another day."
O'Brien, Braaten win slopestyle
Dew Cup champion for 2009 Spencer O'Brien enjoyed her first victory since the 2010 season, taking the top spot in the women's slopestyle finals at the Nike Open on Sunday. O'Brien led the field after her first run and improved on her second with a 90.75, more than 10 points higher than the nearest competitor.
Her run of frontside boardslide into frontside lipslide, followed by a backside 540 melon, switch backside 540 mute, into a 50-50 backside 180 and switch backside 180 mute, finishing off with a huge frontside 720 indy, impressed the crowd and judges alike.
Enni Rukajarvi, 79.50, and Sarka Pancochova, 72.00, took second and third-respectively. O'Brien was both excited and relieved to return to familiar territory atop the podium.
"I'm so excited to win in Breck. The first contest I won was here in the first year of the Dew Tour. It feels really good to be back on top in Breck. I'm really looking forward to Snowbasin. I'm feeling good going forward," O'Brien said.
Norway's Germund Braaten took home a victory in slopestyle snowboarding for the men. Braaten, who was competing in his first Dew Tour final, bested a field of the top names in slopestyle with a technical and stylish run.
Braaten started off his run with a switch back tail 270, cab boardslide to front boardslide to fakie, into a switch backside double cork 1080 and cab double cork 9 followed by frontside 180 into the wallride with a 180 off, finishing with a backside double cork 1080 and frontside double cork 1080, to score a 97.75, the highest slopestyle score in Dew Tour history. Sebastien Toutant (96.00) and Charles Reid (90.00) took second and third, respectively, on the first slopestyle podium of the season. After suffering a shoulder injury at last year's Nike Open, Braaten made the most of his return.
"I couldn't even imagine this. I'm just really happy to put my run down and I'm excited to see where the winter takes me from here," Braaten said after the win.