Summit’s Gold tops White, places 2nd in Dew Tour superpipe finals
It seems like every day at the Winter Dew Tour outdoes the previous, and the final day Sunday, Dec. 19, at Copper Mountain Resort did not disappoint.
In the men’s snowboard superpipe final, four Americans made up the 10-man field, including Shaun White, Summit’s Taylor Gold, Chase Josey and Joey Okesson.
It was Valentino Guseli from Australia, though, who got the competition off to a hot start, scoring an 83 on his first of three runs. Jan Scherrer of Switzerland then outdid Guseli on his run, scoring an 88.
Gold, who hails from Steamboat Springs but lives and trains in Summit, entered the superpipe doing his signature McTwist on the first wall into a frontside 1260 and a double Michalchuk before ending things with a switch McTwist.
Gold was ecstatic after his run, and the Copper crowd fed off his energy as he skidded to a stop at the bottom of the pipe. Gold scored a 92, which put him in first place.
Josey followed Gold but ended up falling while trying to perform a final trick and limped away from the competition area. He did not return and finished in 10th with a score of 29.25.
Four-time Olympian White also got off to a shaky start, going down on his first run. White later said his snowboard binding broke midrun, which caused the fall. White scored a 30.75 to sit in seventh after the first round.
On the second round of runs, Okesson had a solid run after falling in his first attempt, scoring a 75.75 to move up slightly in the competition.
Gold returned to the pipe looking to go bigger and better but fell while trying to perform a 1260.
White went down again on his second run, meaning he needed to put together an almost perfect final run for a chance at the podium.
Ruka Hirano of Japan scored big on his second run of the day, earning an 89 to move into third.
On the final round of runs, Okesson ended up falling for the second time, finishing in ninth.
Gold performed a McTwist, a frontside 1260 and a cab 720, but it wasn’t enough to cap his 92 from the first round. Gold was then forced to sweat out the last few runs to see whether he would stick in first place with heavy hitters White and Yuto Totsuka of Japan yet to go.
White returned to the pipe eager to get a respectable score on the board. He executed on a frontside 1080, a backside 1260, a double McTwist and a sky hook, but it wasn’t enough for him to crack the top three. Instead, White finished in seventh with a top score of 82.
At the end of his run, White announced that the event was his last Winter Dew Tour, and avid fans cheered him out of the competition zone for what could be his last time competing on Colorado soil.
Gold then patiently waited as Totsuka entered the pipe for his final run. Totsuka threw together a monster run to score a 95.50, bumping Gold to second. However, Hirano ended up falling on his final run of the day, keeping Gold on the podium in front of a hometown crowd. Hirano finished third.
“I’ve been wanting to do that line for some time,” Gold said about his winning first run. “The Japanese guys are so freaking good, so any time that I am in the mix with those guys is a blessing.”
Gold said he was nervous watching the final few runs but that he was was really enjoying the competition.
“Honestly, I am a fan of the sport, and I love watching those guys,” Gold said. “After I have landed a run, it is all icing on the cake for me. Of course, I am stoked to get on the podium, but at the end of the day, just landing a run and kind of showing my style, I think that is my main goal.”
Gold’s performance presumably puts him in good standing to make the 2022 U.S. Olympic Team that will be traveling to Beijing.
Gold could lead the charge for the U.S. at the Olympics, in large part because of the unique style he presents in the pipe.
“I’ve taken inspiration from guys that have appreciated those style tricks in the past,” Gold said. “More recently, Danny Davis and Ben Ferguson, they have had a huge influence on my riding, and I’m just stoked to add my own flavor and maybe make it look more fun.”
Gold will now prepare to travel to another U.S. Grand Prix event from Jan. 6-9 at Mammoth Mountain. This will serve as another opportunity for him to make his bid for the 2022 Olympic Team.
Women’s snowboard superpipe
In the women’s superpipe competition, Americans Maddie Mastro and Chloe Kim were looking to make the podium.
Mastro, who had the top score in qualifiers, fell hard on the lip of the superpipe and slide down the rest of the icy, 22-foot superpipe wall. She left the competition area under her own power but looked visibly shaken and did not return, finishing in seventh.
Kim ended up falling on her first run of the day to score only 32, while Queralt Castellet of Spain took first place in the first round with a score of 93. Kim fell again on her second run while trying to perform a 1080.
On the third round of runs, Castellet elevated her performance, going even bigger to improve to a 95 with a frontside 900 and a frontside 720.
The last competitor to go, Kim stood at the top of the superpipe knowing what she needed to do in order to make the podium. Kim seemed unfazed by the pressure as she strung together a 1080, cab 900 and a perfectly executed cab 1080 to score a 96 and capture the title.
Kim fell to her knees at the end of her run and was engulfed by the rest of the competition.
“I am never putting myself in that situation again,” Kim said about needing to stick her final run. “That was horrible. I was so happy that I was able to land — seriously.”
Castellet finished in second, and Xuetong Cai of China finished third.