US skiers sweep modified halfpipe competition
Men’s ski superpipe
1. Alex Ferreira, USA 90.00
2. Aaron Blunck, USA 86.00
3. David Wise, USA 84.67
Women’s snowboard superpipe
1. Chloe Kim, USA 94.67
2. Maddie Mastro, USA 88.00
3. Queralt Castellet, ESP 85.33
David Wise’s halfpipe past consists of two Olympic gold medals and four Winter X Games gold medals.
But it’s halfpipe’s future he’s worried about.
The 28-year-old finished in third place in Sunday’s Dew Tour modified superpipe competition behind teammates Alex Ferreira, a former Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athlete, and Aaron Blunck, a 2014 graduate of Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy.
Wise was as candid as can be about where halfpipe riding goes from here.
“Pipe skiing and pipe snowboarding is getting a little bit stagnant,” Wise said. “And, as riders — as somebody who has been in the sport a long time — I can kind of see a lot of resorts are having a hard time building pipes. They are expensive. Twenty-two-foot pipes are really hard to build. So we are staring at what could be the end of our sport. But if we start making these courses fun and making the general public want to get in there and ride it and have fun, then that’s going to give the sport a lot more longevity. I look at it as, this is good for all of us.”
“Call it ‘pipestyle,’” Wise later added. “That’s going to be our new buzzword.”
FERREIRA: HALF AND HALF
Where does the halfpipe go from here? That’s the common refrain this week at Breckenridge Ski Resort among the prominent athletes and figures at the heartbeat of snowboarding and freeskiing’s park and pipe community. In fact, Wise — who finished with a score of 84.67 — wasn’t the only freeskier on Sunday’s modified superpipe podium who threw out the idea of having more creative runs.
After Ferreira landed his winning 90-point run through the modified superpipe, he said in an interview on the Dew Tour television broadcast that he would like to see 50 percent of International Ski & Snowboard Federation World Cup halfpipe competitions have modified features. Ferreira won his second consecutive Dew Tour via a run that consisted of a huge double-cork 1260 with a mute grab in the pipe.
A week after winning at the Copper Mountain Resort Grand Prix, Blunck earned that second-place score of 86.00 despite struggling with speed coming out of the flattened bottom of the pipe. He hit the tombstone takeoff from the side, stomping his transition into the hip hits at the bottom of the course.
“It’s nice to see you have to get creative,” Blunck said of the modified course.
After the competition, Wise said he often is asked why the American team is so dominant in freeskiing and snowboarding events. To the prolific veteran, he thinks it gets to the core of their on-snow ethos. He said the U.S. riders have “the rebel spirit,” and are “here to do things differently than everybody else.” Wise said he’d even like to have a massive loft-jump feature at the top of a modified pipe course in the future, similar to the high air elements seen in BMX and motocross competitions.
“I’m just going to mic drop,” Wise said. “Let’s do more of these. Let’s have a circuit of more creative courses. Because we love halfpipe — I love halfpipe. That apex that you get when you go straight up in the air and you are holding that grab, that weightless feeling is unmatched for me. That’s why I love halfpipe so much. But why not have more of this creative style of competition? It makes it more fun for us. It makes it more interesting to watch. I don’t think there were two runs even close to each other today.”
Sunday’s competition was partially marred though by a very serious injury sustained by Basalt’s Torin Yater-Wallace. Yater-Wallace had to be taken off on a sled by paramedics after he appeared to seriously injure both of his heels when he landed in the flat-bottom out of the tombstone feature of the modified pipe course. The impact of the fall also left him with a bloody nose. The scary-looking injury came during a strong run from Yater-Wallace after he executed a right alley-oop double-cork 900 on the tombstone and a stylish first hit in the pipe with a nose mute.
Birk Irving, of Winter Park, finished fourth and Avon skier Taylor Seaton finished eighth.