All-around passion: Ryan Wachendorfer will go from Sunday’s Dew Tour snowboard superpipe final to the Freeride World Tour |

All-around passion: Ryan Wachendorfer will go from Sunday’s Dew Tour snowboard superpipe final to the Freeride World Tour

Former SSCV snowboarder turned down World Championship nod to compete at Copper Mountain

Ryan Wachendorfer, of Edwards, competes in the Monster Energy Men's Snowboard SuperPipe during X Games Aspen 2022. Wachendorfer will ride in Sunday's Dew Tour men's snowboard superpipe finals.
Gabriel Christus/ESPN Images

Ryan Wachendorfer is a fan of all kinds of snowboarding, and his schedule to end the season is proof.

“I just love snowboarding and I want to showcase it in all different areas,” he said earlier this week. “In the halfpipe, through freeride or video or in the backcountry — it’s important to me to showcase myself as a well-rounded snowboarder.”

He’s also keen on striking when the iron is hot, which is why the 27-year-old will compete in Sunday’s Dew Tour snowboard superpipe final at noon at Copper Mountain before traveling to Austria to compete in the Freeride World Tour (FWT) Fieberbrunn stop March. 11-17.

“Right now I’m riding the best I’ve ever ridden and honestly having the most fun,” said Wachendorfer, who moved to Edwards in elementary school and joined SSCV until his graduation from Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy in 2014. He now lives in Frisco with his girlfriend of four years, fellow pro snowboarder Maddie Mastro.

“We have a very similar mindset when it comes to competing, the stress that’s involved and the scheduling. So it’s very nice to have that mindset and kind of understand each other on that level,” he said of his relationship with Mastro. “And she keeps me motivated.”

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Currently, the primary motivation for Wachendorf — who finished the World Cup halfpipe season ranked 13th after a season-best ninth place result in Calgary on Feb. 10 — is to take advantage of a relatively weaker Dew Tour field.

“Every other year, Dew Tour has been the most stacked field of any contest we’ll have the entire year,” he said. “But this year, the field is pretty small, with a lot of guys in Georgia (for the 2023 FIS World Championships), which creates an awesome opportunity for people that could show up and do well. That was kind of my mindset going into this.”

Wachendorf, who has two World Championships starts in 2015 and 2017, was also named to the 2023 team competing in Bakuriani, Georgia, but decided to turn down the opportunity.

“I was really stoked to make the team for this year. I missed 2021 in Aspen — I was right on the outside — so to get back on that team was a super awesome accomplishment; I think for anybody to make that team is a great accomplishment,” he said. “For me in my career right now, a podium at the Dew Tour would be huge. And I think there’s plenty of opportunity to go do that and get it done this year.”

Ryan Wachendorfer performs a frontside doublecork 1080 with a melon grab during the halfpipe semifinals at the Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships in 2017.
Chris Dillmann | Vail Daily

Wachendorfer contrasted the calculus of foreign and domestic riders, noting that for many international athletes, a World Championship start can impact funding.

“On the flip side, Dew Tour is maybe a more respected and higher-profile contest within the snowboard industry,” he explained. “As far as sponsors and credibility with sponsors and credibility within the snowboard industry, I’d say Dew Tour holds a little more weight than World Championships does. I don’t know exactly why that is.”

The 10-year World Cup veteran still has global goals, though.

“Making the Olympic team and doing well there is still a huge goal of mine,” he said, adding that in 2018, an untimely injury at a qualification event derailed his chances and in 2022 he just missed the cut. He’s fully invested in another cycle, but knows giving himself the best shot will require chiseling out his run’s individual hits with a longterm approach instead of looking at performances “contest-by-contest or year-by-year.”

“If I do want to make that Olympic dream happen, I need to be focused on the runs I want to be doing in 2025 and 2026,” he said. “My mindset is, let’s start putting the combos I want to have be automatic in three or four years, and start doing that now. You work out the bugs now and then two years down the road you’re not even thinking about those combos.”

In Laax, Switzerland on Jan. 21, where he placed 12th, he blitzed the five-hit pipe with five-straight doubles. “Which was the first time I’d ever done that,” he said.

He started switch into a switch double cork 1080, which led into a frontside cork 1260 and a double Michalchuk (backside rodeo named after Michael Michalchuk) on the backside wall. He ended with a front double 1080 and a switch double cork 1260.

“That’s pretty unique to have 12s on two different walls — one switch, one regular — so I’ve had those tricks individually for the past couple years and kind of been on the road to putting them on the same run together,” he said.

“I’m really happy with how things are really falling into place. I’ve been thinking about putting these combos and tricks together for a couple years now and to see it all come together now is really satisfying. It’s cool to see the work paying off.”

Home field advantage

Wachendorfer moved to Frisco to be a bit closer to Copper, his home training venue. He said the main difference in pipes across the world are with pitch and width; all are 22-feet high.
“If it’s on a steeper pitch, you can take a line more across, which actually adds length to the pipe. If you’re going super downhill across the flat bottom, you’re using up more halfpipe,” he explained. “Copper’s a little flatter this year, so usually it might be a five or six hit pipe, but it might be four or five now.”

He said the main home field advantage for this weekend will be cooking and sleeping in his own home. “And that’s a tradeoff when we’re in Europe,” he stated.

Even though Wachendorfer’s halfpipe career is still his main focus, he can’t help but branch out to other types of riding, which is why the chance to ride in the FWT this March as a wildcard athlete was too tantalizing to pass up.

“I’m really excited for that. It will be my first ever freeride event on the Freeride World Tour. The thing I’ve done closest to that is probably Kings and Queens of Corbets last year,” he said.

“I’m just passionate about snowboarding and if I can get people motivated to ride whatever is in front of them — whether it’s the terrain park, the mountain or even just going up and setting up a feature in the back yard — I just want people to get outside.”

Going from the neatly manicured halfpipe, where timing, take-off and twists are precisely dialed in and honed by countless repetitions, to the wild world of freeriding, is admittedly an adjustment. The latter demands contestants to carve lines and artistically improvise mid-cliff jump on death-defying slopes — with nothing more than a scouting session from the base beforehand.

“I think it’s a shift for sure,” he said. “I think coming from such a halfpipe and more flipping and spinning background — I’ll be good in the air, I’m comfortable in the air, but for me it’s going to be line choice,” he continued.

“You’re still in the same contest mindset, which I’ve done so much of, so I think the mental preparation will also be similar to a halfpipe contest. But I definitely need to switch gears in what I’m riding.”

That’s why after Dew Tour, he’s scheduled large blocks of full-speed riding on “chunky, gnarly stuff.”

“I think the best way to condition myself if I have a week is to see how many hot laps of chair 11 in Vail I can do,” he said. “And just get a mix of everything — some drops, bombing through the bumps, going fast, weaving through stuff.”

He also might call up Jack and Kevin Nichols, two Vail brothers who compete on the FWT full-time.

I’ve never been to Fieberbrunn. I do need to talk to the Nichols for some strategy stuff for sure,” he said. “I grew up with those boys so we’re really close and would love to get insight on that.

His childhood home played a role in his all-around ability, cultivating a love for all aspects of the sport in the process.

“I think even growing up and riding Vail and being comfortable riding the mountain and hitting natural features and flipping off stuff like that — I have a pretty good sense of you know the speed, the takeoff and what that takes,” he said.

‘I just love all aspects of snowboarding, too.”

Ryan Wachendorfer airs out of the halfpipe during the 2017 Grand Prix World Cup at Mammoth Mountain, California. Wachendorfer will go from the Dew Tour superpipe finals on Sunday to prepping for the Freeride World Tour pro stop in Fieberbrunn, Austria in March.
Mateusz Kielpinski | U.S. Snowboarding |


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