Big money on the line at Breckenridge | VailDaily.com

Big money on the line at Breckenridge

Ryan Slabaugh

You have two choices.

You can grab a sweater and head out to Breckenridge this weekend to watch the Mountain Dew Pro Nationals, the first big-money snowboard event this season, or you can wait a month and watch it on television.

By then, however, it will be old news.

Long before the first event in the Vans Triple Crown series airs on NBC, riders like Steve Fisher will be battling Olympians such as Ross Powers, Danny Kass and Kelly Clark in slopestyle, superpipe and on the rails for more than $100,000 and the keys to a Ford Ranger FX4.

Last year, Fisher sprung an 88 on his last halfpipe run and moved into second place, good enough for $8,000. This year, he’s already standing eighth in the World Cup halfpipe standings after a fourth-place showing in Chile and a European tour.

“I’d say this will be a lot more laid back,” Fisher said.

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“It’s a lot more fun as compared to serious. No matter what you do, the other riders will be rooting you on. It’s still one of the most difficult competitions, rider-skill wise. Pretty much everyone is here.”

And, by pretty much, Fisher means Shaun White won’t be attending. White, who was 15 when he finished second in the 2001 slopestyle in Breck, made his biggest impact last year at the X Games where he took home two silver medals.

Still, other big names will ride, says event promoter Chad Otterstrom. J.J. Thomas, Hanna Beaman and youthful twirler Hannah Teter will be in the mix next to locals Richards (2001 slopestyle winner), Gretchen Bleiler (2002 overall winner), Fisher and Chad Otterstrom, who all ride for Breckenridge’s freeride team.

“I want to do well in the hometown,” Fisher said. “I always do better. I got my friends out here, you know.”

The athletes will take on Breck’s 18-foot superpipe and the Freeway Terrain Park featuring 35 new creations, seven fun boxes, a rainbow rail and up to 15 jumps.

Slopestyle competitors will be judged on consistency and level of difficulty, while superpipe riders will be judged on difficulty, execution and height.

The rail jam is less formal and the winner will be the one to land the toughest trick.

Last year, Luke Wynen and Kjersti Buaas won the superpipe; Etienne Gilbert and Jennifer Jones won the slopestyle; and Aaaron Keene and Leanne Pelosi won the rail jam.

The $300,000 Vans Triple Crown of Snowboarding will continue with the Built Ford Tough Championships at Mammoth Mountain, Calif., Jan. 23-25 and at the Vans North American Championships, March 5-7 at a location to be determined.

For more information, visit http://www.vans.com.

The Breckenridge event will be televised Jan. 17 at 1:30 p.m. on NBC.

Ryan Slabaugh can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 257, or at rslabaugh@summitdaily.com.