Seaton’s dream job arrives early | VailDaily.com
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Seaton’s dream job arrives early

Ian Cropp
Battle Mountain's Taylor Seaton, 16, launches above the halfpipe in Big Bear, Calif., this past weekend. Seaton, who skis with Freeride Copper, won the Big Bear Open to secure a spot in next season's the Honda Ski Tour.
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BIG BEAR, Calif. ” Most job interviews aren’t conducted in a halfpipe.

But 16-year-old Taylor Seaton isn’t heading down the typical path of employment ” he’s looking for a dream job.

On Saturday, Seaton flew through his interview, beat out a large list of professional candidates and even brought home a paycheck.

At the Big Bear Open in Big Bear, Calif., Seaton finished first in the freestyle halfpipe competition to earn a spot on next season’s The Honda Ski Tour and pick up $3,000.

“I was sort of in disbelief,” said Seaton, a Battle Mountain junior and Freeride Copper skier. “I haven’t won a competition this big in a long time ” especially one that’s this big.”

The top finish and money weren’t what first moved Seaton.

“I was more stoked about being in the Ski Tour and starting a whole new profession ” a career,” Seaton said.

Welcome to the working world, Mr. Seaton.

Since competing in the Aspen/Snowmass Open ” held almost a month before Saturday ” Seaton hadn’t hit the slopes. A lingering heel injury has kept Seaton from training most of the year.

“I felt like I got a little better from not skiing, and thought about how I needed to progress in my skiing,” Seaton said.

In addition to working out, Seaton has spent a lot of time analyzing his competition runs on video, looking at where he’s popping out of the pipe, his stance, how he drops in and where he loses his speed.

Heading into the Big Bear Open, Seaton wanted a top-three finish. The halfpipe at the event had lip that pushed the skiers back into the middle of the pipe and didn’t initially excite Seaton.

“I wasn’t used to it at all,” Seaton said. “You had to land really high in the wall to keep your speed.”

During Friday’s practice session, Seaton did a few airs and some spins, but none of the moves he planned for his run.

“Going into (Saturday) I wasn’t feeling the pipe at all,” Seaton said. “But during practice on the day of competition, I was doing all right, and the last run before they started qualifying was when I threw my run and decided it’s a good pipe.”

Seaton qualified top in his heat, with a run that that went as such: a rightside 540, leftside 540, rightside 900, rightside alley oop 540, to rightside 720.

In the other qualifying heat, Patrick Baskins made it two-for-two for Battle Mountain and Freeride Copper skiers at the top. Baskins, a sophomore, started with a 540 with a mute grab, then jumped and landed switch before pulling a 720 mute, went into an air with a tail grab and finished with a 900 tail grab.

After their first finals run, the two friends ” Seaton and Baskins ” heard some good news.

“When Taylor was riding back (the pipe) in the snowmobile … they announced that in second place was me and in first place way Taylor,” Baskins said. “I was hoping it would end like that.”

A trio of riders moved past Baskins in the second finals run, and he finished in fifth, taking home $700.

“I was pretty stoked that I accomplished second place after my first run, and after that I was still pretty stoked,” Baskins said.

In his first finals run, Baskins used the same run as in qualifying, but went bigger on his switch 720 ” a move he learned the day before the event. Baskins tried to add a 540 in his second finals run after the 720, but couldn’t squeeze it in.

Seaton’s first finals run ” similar to his qualifier, but substituting a leftside 900 for the alley oop 540 ” stood as the winner.

“I was just feeling the pipe that night and took everything as large as I could, and I guess that’s what the judges liked ” the amplitude,” Seaton said.

Even before the top-line addition to his skiing resume could dry, Seaton put his pen to the pad again. Wednesday at the Junior Olympics in Steamboat Springs, Seaton took second, finishing only 0.7 behind the winner.

“I really thought I needed to step it up and I was determined to do pretty well,” Seaton said.

With only an hour of training on a pipe different than that at Big Bear, Seaton jumped right in, scoring the highest on the first run.

“They put out the results and I had all nine’s except for amplitude, which was a seven-point-five or something,” Seaton said.

On his second run, Seaton had what he thought was a bigger and cleaner pass, improving his score by almost two points.

“Doing well two (contests) in a row ” I was sort of in disbelief again that I was getting my stuff together and doing well in competitions,” Seaton said.

Also in the top half of the draw were a trio of Ski and Snowboard Club athletes. Brian Johnson led the charge in 16th, followed by Tanner Coulter in 19th and James Leonard in 25th.

Today, the Junior Olympics continue with slopestyle, followed by moguls on Friday (singles) and Sunday (duals).

This weekend, Seaton hopes to hit the pipe at the World Superpipe Championships in Park City, Utah. Seaton has yet to find out if the organizers will accept him into the invite-only event. Then, Seaton and Baskins will be at the Vermont Open in Stratton, Vermont, for halfpipe, while Baskins will then head to Killington, Vermont for the halfpipe at Junior Nationals and Baskins will stay in Stratton for the slopestyle.

Seaton’s training, however, may have to wait for a bit.

“Once my heel stops hurting, which will be soon,” Seaton said. “I’m praying the bruise will go away.”

Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.


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