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Grand Prix Propels U.S. Team Athletes into Dew Tour

By Andrew Gauthier
December, 10 2018
Toby Miller and JJ Thomas at Copper Mountain.
Toby Miller and coach JJ Thomas at the Toyota U.S Grand Prix halfpipe. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard - Sarah Brunson)

U.S. Freeski & Snowboard athletes claimed seven of 12 podium positions including two first-place finishes from Chloe Kim (Torrance, Calif.) and Aaron Blunck (Crested Butte, Colo.) at last weekend’s Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colorado. If the Grand Prix was any representation of what is to come, you can expect U.S. Freeski & Snowboard Team athletes to keep the momentum rolling into the modified halfpipe and slopestyle competitions at Dew Tour Dec. 13-16 in Breckenridge, Colorado.

Some of the results highlighted familiar faces, including U.S Freeski Pro Team members Aaron Blunck (Crested Butte, Colo.) and double-Olympic gold medalist and defending Copper Grand Prix champion David Wise, finishing in first and third place respectively in the men’s FIS World Cup freeski halfpipe competition. For the women, PyeongChang Olympic bronze medalist Brita Sigourney (Carmel, Calif.) came out with a strong performance picking up where she left off last season with consistent amplitude and style.

For the U.S. Snowboard Team, it was clear that they are a force to be reckoned with this season. PyeongChang Olympic gold medalist Chloe Kim did not skip a beat kicking off the 2018-19 competition season with a victory. Her teammate Maddie Mastro (Wrightwood, Calif.) finished just behind Kim in second-place, starting the season off strong as she slowly builds on her competition runs. Kim and Mastro were both part of the U.S. Snowboard Team sweep at last year’s U.S Grand Prix at Copper Mountain with teammate Kelly Clark (Mammoth, Calif).

For the men of the U.S. Snowboard Team, Toby Miller (Mammoth, Calif.) and Chase Josey (Sun Valley, Idaho) finished second and third respectively. Josey’s performance, although very impressive, was also no surprise to those keeping tabs on competitive halfpipe snowboarding. On the other hand, Miller came out and made a clear statement that he is very much in the conversation this season.

In the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic season, Miller was shadowing Shaun White (Carlsbad, Calif.). He would not only attend major events with White and coach JJ Thomas, who is now a member of the U.S. Snowboard Team coaching staff working directly with Miller, but also trained alongside White whenever he had the opportunity. They traveled the world together in the months leading up to the Olympics and when the big day came, Miller was holding the video camera capturing White’s epic journey to his historic third Olympic gold medal. This experience clearly reaped benefits for Miller, both physically as a rider and mentally as a competitor.

While it may seem he came out of nowhere, Miller has been progressing with halfpipe podiums since the 2015 FIS Junior World Championships, including halfpipe gold at the 2018 Worlds in Cardrona, New Zealand in August. But there is a significant difference in the level of competition between FIS Snowboard World Cup and Junior World Championship competition. Miller’s high energy run and appropriate appetite for risk resulted in him grabbing his first ever FIS World Cup podium at the first World Cup halfpipe competition of the season. Incredibly, Miller had never tried the run that earned him second-place, either in practice or in competition.

“Coming into this contest I had never put that entire run together,” said Miller. “At the Saas-Fee, Switzerland, training camp I had linked back to back 1260’s together, but in a different order and not the entire run. The U.S. Grand Prix was a test for me and I couldn’t be happier with the result.”

If Saturday’s U.S. Grand Prix event was a test for Miller, he passed with flying colors. Miller will be competing in the Team Challenge at this week’s Dew Tour in the modified superpipe as well as the individual modified superpipe competition. He sure to put on a show for the Breckenridge crowd alongside his U.S. Ski & Snowboard teammates.

“This year’s Copper Grand Prix was one for the books,” said Miller. “The level of riding was through the roof and it’s got me really excited to see what goes down at Dew Tour in the modified superpipe.”

Other U.S. Snowboard Team members competing at Dew Tour include halfpipe riders Taylor Gold (Steamboat Springs Colo.), Gabe Ferguson (Bend, Ore.), Chase Josey, and defending 2017 Dew Tour superpipe champion Jake Pates (Eagle, Colo.). American's Danny Davis (Highland, Mich.) and Ben Ferguson (Bend, Ore.) are also expected to compete. For the women, Kim will lead the way with Maddie Mastro and last year's Dew Tour third-place finisher Arielle Gold (Steamboat Springs, Colo.). American Hannah Teter (S. Lake Tahoe, Calif) will also be on the start list.

In slopestyle, U.S Snowboard Team athletes include Olympic gold medalist Red Gerard (Silverthorne, Colo.), 2017 Dew Tour second-place finisher Chris Corning (Silverthorne, Colo.) and Kyle Mack (West Bloomfield, Mich.). Mack will also join teammate Brandon Davis (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.) in the streetstyle competition. For the women, double-Olympic gold medalist Jamie Anderson (S. Lake Tahoe, Calif.), Hailey Langland (San Clemente, Calif.) and Julia Marino (Westport, Conn.) will join the rest of the U.S. Snowboard Team in Breckenridge.

U.S Freeski Team members competing at Dew Tour include the defending 2017 Dew Tour champion and Colorado native Alex Ferreira (Aspen, Colo.), Olympian Torin Yater-Wallace (Basalt, Colo.), David Wise (Reno, Nev.), Gus Kenworthy (Telluride, Colo.), Birk Irving (Winter Park, Colo.) and Aaron Blunck who is coming in hot off a win at the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper last week. For the women, Olympic gold medalist Maddie Bowman (S. Lake Tahoe, Calif.), Olympian Annalisa Drew (Andover, Mass.) and Brita Sigourney who will look to go for her second consecutive halfpipe podium of the season. U.S. Rookie Team member Abigale Hansen (June Lake, Calif.) will also be in attendance.

Park City, Utah natives Alex Hall and McRae Williams will represent in slopestyle with teammate and Kenworthy, the Sochi Olympic silver medalist. Hall will also compete in the streetstyle event at Dew Tour with Americans Quinn Wolferman (Missoula, Mont.), Keegan Kilbride (Sugarloaf, Maine), LJ Strenio (Burlington, Vt.), Sean Jordan (Moscow, Penn.) and Tim Mcchesney (Bozeman, Mont.). For the women, Maggie Voisin (Whitefish, Mont.) will be the sole representative for the U.S. Women’s Freeski Team. Look for Voisin to continue to dial in her new left double cork 1260 that she unleashed in competition for the first time at the Stubai, Austria, World Cup in slopestyle.

Dew Tour also will have a Team Challenge competition. This event offers a unique take on slopestyle and halfpipe competition for U.S. Freeski & Snowboard athletes. Six of snowboarding and freeskiing’s top brands select three athletes to represent their team across a modified superpipe, jump and rail competitions. According to DewTour.com, the unique Team Challenge competition is designed to showcase style, creativity, and diverse tricks while using an innovative course and format. Only the strongest and most strategic team will emerge as the overall best team. See U.S. Ski & Snowboard athlete participants on their sponsored team rosters below.

Freeski Team Challenge
Armada - Torin Yater-Wallace
Atomic - Gus Kenworthy
Faction - Mac Forehand (Winhall, Vt.), Alex Hall
Head - Aaron Blunck
K2 - Birk Irving, Colby Stevenson (Park City, Utah)
Volkl - Hunter Hess (Bend, Ore.), McRae Williams

Snowboard Team Challenge
Burton - Red Gerard
Capita - Chase Josey, Nikolas Baden (Steamboat Springs, Colo.)
DC - Toby Miller,
Salomon - Ryan Wachendorfer (Edwards, Colo.)

A total of six hours of Winter Dew Tour coverage will air on NBC and NBCSN, with DewTour.com live streaming all finals from Thursday, Dec. 13 through Sunday, Dec. 16. All finals will stream live on Facebook, Periscope, Twitch, Daily Motion, Youtube, TWSnow.com, Newschoolers.com, Powder.com, adventuresportsnetwork.com, and Snowboarder.com.  The new Dew Tour app will also exclusively offer live scoring in addition to the livestream.

HOW TO WATCH
*Subject to change
All times in EST

Saturday, Dec. 29
4:00 p.m. - Dew Tour Show, Breckenridge, Colo. - NBC

Sunday, Dec. 30
5:00 p.m. - Dew Tour Show, Breckenridge, Colo. - NBC

Thursday, Jan. 3
11:00 p.m. -  Dew Tour Show, Breckenridge, Colo. - NBCSN

Tuesday, Jan. 8
11:30 p.m. - Dew Tour Show, Breckenridge, Colo. - NBCSN

EVENT SCHEDULE
*Subject to change
All times in MST

FREESKI
Thursday, Dec. 13.
9:00 a.m – 9:45 a.m. - Women’s slopestyle jump final
10:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. - Women’s slopestyle jib final
12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. - Team modified superpipe final presented by Toyota
1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. - Team slopestyle jump final 
2:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. - Team slopestyle jib final

Friday, Dec. 14.
9:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. - Women’s modified superpipe final presented by Toyota
7:00 p.m. – 7:45 p.m. - Streetstyle Final

Saturday, Dec 15. 
12:00 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. - Men’s slopestyle jump finals
1:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. - Men’s slopestyle jib finals

Sunday, Dec. 16
9:15 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. - Men’s modified superpipe final presented by Toyota

SNOWBOARD
Friday, Dec. 14.
10:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. - Women’s slopestyle jump final
11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. - Women’s slopestyle jib final
12:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. - Team modified superpipe final presented by Toyota
1:45 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. - Team slopestyle jump final
2:45 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. - Team slopestyle jib final
6:00 p.m. – 6:45 p.m. - Streetstyle Final

Saturday, Dec 15. 
10:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m. - Men’s modified superpipe final presented by Toyota

Sunday, Dec. 16
10:45 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.- Women’s modified superpipe final presented by Toyota
12:00 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. - Men’s slopestyle jump final
1:45 p.m.  – 3:00 p.m. - Men’s slopestyle jib final