Back from injury, Cole Pates takes down USASA comp |

Back from injury, Cole Pates takes down USASA comp

Cole Pates, 18, of Eagle, tops the podium Saturday at the USASA Rocky Mountain Freeski Series slopestyle competition at Golden Peak. Stewart Eastep photo.

For Cole Pates of Eagle, the smartest move is to keep it safe right now. That means sticking to 450s and 630s off the rails and switch 720s and 900s off the jumps.

Pates is recovering from a shoulder injury sustained earlier this season. He received a surgery from Dr. Peter Millett at the Steadman Clinic and has been back on snow for less than two months.

“Right now I’m not 100 percent yet, so I don’t really have full clearance to just go out and send it,” he said.

Using a safety run Saturday, he still was able to land good enough tricks to take the top spot in the top division in the USASA slopestyle competition in Vail.

“I’m kind of fighting to keep it mellow,” he said. “Trying to ski smart right now.”

The line he took is a familiar one for Pates, who skis the Golden Peak park often. On his switch 720 on the first jump, he spun right, an unnatural direction for Pates, who finds spinning to the left easier. He also crossed his skis and threw in a mute grab for style. After taking off and landing backwards on the first jump, he maintained his switch formation into the second jump, spinning 900 degrees back in the natural direction. The judges seemed to appreciate the variation in spins and the style on the grabs and awarded Pates the victory.

“I’m really stoked to be back on the podium, especially with a win,” he said.

Pates, 18, will now turn his attention to his younger brother Jake, who was recently called “the best 16 year old snowboarder in the country” by announcer Mark Sullivan at a World Cup halfpipe competition Sunday in Park City, where the young snowboarder made finals. During the Burton US Open here in Vail this week, Cole Pates intends to be at the top of the pipe cheering on Jake.

“I’m especially excited the event is here on our home mountain, where I’ll be able to be by his side the whole time,” Cole Pates said Saturday.

Following the US Open, the Pates brothers will head out to Mammoth Mountain, California, to compete in a Revolution Tour event that was canceled earlier this season and rescheduled for March 18-20.

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