Pates 5th at Dew Tour, says he wants more modified halfpipe competitions in snowboarding
BRECKENRIDGE — Eagle snowboarder Jake Pates struggled with the modified halfpipe at the Dew Tour.
And that’s a good thing, he said.
When he figured it out, it was a spectacular moment for the crowd on Saturday and a rewarding feeling which Pates is likely to remember for the rest of his life.
After all, it will go down in history as the first major competition to take a traditional halfpipe and make it into a course of sorts, adding additional jumps and transition choices into the mix.
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But if Pates, 20, is able to help push the sport in the direction he has in mind, it will be far from the last.
Pates crashed on his first two runs in the best of three contest.
He also had the privilege of being the final rider to take to the course after winning last year’s (ordinary) halfpipe event.
“I’ve never dropped last like that in an event,” he said.
Just entering the course was tricky, as one of the modifications to the halfpipe was to put a jump above it, ending many runs on the day before they had even started.
On Pates’ final run, his opening trick was a switch 540, fully inverted, and in grabbing his board he tweaked himself into a position not possible without the grab, all while upside down in the air.
It was a beautiful trick to set up a beautiful run. Pates said the feeling he received upon landing the trick validated that particular modification to the traditional halfpipe — a difficult jump that must be hit cleanly before even reaching it.
“You’ve got some momentum now,” he said. “You feel you’re ready to drop in.”
Pates then linked together three double inverted tricks in the actual halfpipe, a double Michalchuk 900 followed by regular and switch 1080s, a combo he also had in his eighth-place Olympic run earlier this year. In exiting the pipe, Pates landed another tweaked invert, similar to his first trick, before choosing to use the course’s final feature as a quarterpipe. He spun a perfect backside 900 and landed cleaning in the very final moment of the competition.
“That just felt super cool,” Pates said. “I had only done that trick once in practice and wasn’t sure if it was going to work out.”
It left those on the podium nervous for a minute, but after a day of heavy runs, it was only good enough for fifth best in the judges’ eyes.
“I try not to get too caught up with the judging,” Pates said. “It was super sick to just make a good lap and land a full pull with a couple good tricks in there.”
‘THIS IS THE DIRECTION’
Pates now heads back to Eagle to spend time with his parents — Amy and Chris Pates — along with his brother and sister for the holidays.
He said in the coming weeks he will be reminiscing fondly on the modified pipe competition.
“It was right up there with any of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” he said. “It took so long to get used to, the first couple days just trying to find your line was so hard, everybody was struggling with it.”
Of course, if the venue was easy to figure out, landing a clean run would not have been nearly as rewarding, Pates said.
He added that he’s hoping to see more competitions like it in the future.
“We definitely need more events like this,” he said. “We could end up seeing a totally different progression in the way of snowboarding.”
And if the whole sport were to switch to halfpipe competitions like the Dew Tour’s?
“It would be so sick,” Pates said. “And I kind of think that’s the way people are pushing it, that’s the direction that we kind of want it to go in.”
Pates said with how common it is to hear those involved with snowboarding say they value individual style in the sport, this year’s Dew Tour was a bit of a “well then prove it” moment.
“This really pushed the riders to actually be more stylish,” he said. “All the different transitions allowed people to get super creative with what they wanted to do.”
In looking at the rest of the halfpipe season, Pates said he will try not to get too bogged down in the huck and spin mindset.
“Here’s the halfpipe, go in there and do as big of tricks as you can do,” he said with a laugh. “If you get your grab and land it clean that’s sick, that’s awesome, but just go spin as much as you can.”
While there was some obvious nerves associated with trying a new type of contest, Pates said the end result was something almost relaxing.
“It was like going to the skate park with your friends,” he said. “Everybody’s shredding, there’s progression happening, such good vibe. I had a great time and I think this is the direction we’re trying to push snowboarding.”
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.