Blackwell brimming with confidence heading into a fourth-straight worlds
Blackwell, Silverthorne's Chris Corning and Jake Canter to compete in 2023 World Championships in Georgia
Last winter season was anything but ideal for Dillon’s Chase Blackwell. The halfpipe rider felt the pressures of making the U.S. Olympic team that would compete in Beijing, and it showed in many of his early season competitions.
In fact, Blackwell did not make a single men’s halfpipe final until his final competition of the season at a Nor-Am Cup event at Copper Mountain Resort last February.
In that competition, Blackwell placed fourth in qualifiers and placed third in finals behind Joey Okesson, who placed second, and Frisco’ Ryan Wachendorfer, who placed first.
With the pressure of the Olympics behind him and an extra year of experience now under his belt, Blackwell, 23, has been competing at a completely different level this season. After only making one final last season, Blackwell has made three straight finals during the 2022-23 competition season.
“I am pretty stoked as to how the season is going so far,” Blackwell said of his start to the 2022-23 competition season. “It has honestly been pretty good — not a lot of pressure this year, not really trying to qualify for anything. It has been pretty relaxed from contest to contest. … Last year was not quite my year.”
Blackwell started his season by missing finals at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain Resort back in December but has since made finals in every competition he has competed in.
Blackwell placed 10th at the Laax Open in Switzerland at the beginning of January, made his first World Cup podium by finishing third at the U.S. Grand Prix in Mammoth and recently placed fifth at the Calgary Snow Rodeo.
For Blackwell, the turnaround from last winter’s competition season is in large part because of a switch in the confidence Blackwell has in his riding abilities.
“I feel like during the 2020–21 season I was riding really well, and that is how I feel like I have been riding recently,” Blackwell said. “I just had a lot of confidence in trusting all the tricks I was doing and knowing I was going to put them down.”
Since December, Blackwell has steadily increased the difficulty of his runs not only to vie for a spot in finals, but to also build a firm foundation of trust in his abilities to perform to the highest level.
“You have to have the confidence to know you can put it down when it counts,” Blackwell said, “even if practice isn’t going so well — or whatever it is. Turn all that off and just do it when it counts. That is exactly what I needed. Start small, and build a little bit.”
The trust and confidence has not only led to final appearances and top-10 finishes, but Blackwell has also looked extremely comfortable this season in the halfpipe.
Whether he is hucking a switch backside 720 or frontside double cork 1260, Blackwell has appeared calm and confident while in the pipe.
Thus far, Blackwell’s best performance of the season occurred when he notched his first-ever world cup podium finish of his career at the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain. Blackwell placed third overall among some of the best halfpipe snowboarders on the circuit. At the time, Blackwell said he was shocked by the result.
“I was a little shocked,” Blackwell said. “I fell on my third run, and I basically had to wait for eight other riders to go before I knew I was going to podium.”
Blackwell was challenged by Japan’s Yuto Totsuka and Korea’s Chaeun Lee, but he ultimately held on to third place with a score of 84 to secure his first career world cup podium finish.
“I was honestly super happy with how I rode, so I really didn’t care if I podiumed or not,” Blackwell said. “I was pretty blown away. I thought Yuto’s run was definitely going to beat me. I couldn’t believe that I finally got my first world cup podium.”
The competition in Mammoth ultimately showed Blackwell he could ride full speed into his tricks and the the judges would adequately reward a clean execution of the tricks.
“If you have been paying attention to the judging, they are really rewarding the execution side,” Blackwell said. “Of course they are rewarding trick difficulty and all that other stuff, but that execution thing is huge. I feel like I am one to care about how I ride, and I feel like I am one to care about how I execute my tricks. Looking at that side of the judging and thinking about how I ride, it is kind of lining up.”
Blackwell followed up his podium finish with a solid run in the Calgary Snow Rodeo world cup which was enough for him to place fifth overall. The finish also pushed Blackwell up to seventh on the International Ski Federation’s world cup snowboard halfpipe rankings.
Blackwell is currently ranked as the highest American male snowboard halfpipe rider, and, as a result, he was named to the U.S. snowboard team that will be attending the 2023 International Ski Federation World Championships in Bakuriani, Georgia, from Sunday, Feb. 19 to Sunday, March 5.
The 2023 world championships in Georgia will be Blackwell’s fourth-straight world championships, and he is the only American halfpipe rider to objectively make the team. Okesson, Idaho’s Chase Josey and Telluride’s Lucas Foster were also named to the U.S. snowboard halfpipe team — but under coach’s discretion.
“I am super excited as always,” Blackwell said. “I have done the last three, so to make a fourth one is pretty wild. I think I am the only American (men’s halfpipe rider) to do four in a row.”
In terms of goals for the world championships, Blackwell hopes to land his runs and make the final.
“I am going to go there, land some runs, look to make finals, land some runs in finals and where I end up, I end up,” Blackwell said. “That is kind of how I stack up with the field right now, trying to execute what you can. I definitely need to learn some tricks in order to knock on every podium’s door. I am going to execute what I can do.”
Outside of riding, Blackwell hopes to take in the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the country of Georgia.
Blackwell will leave for Georgia on Thursday, Feb. 23, with qualifiers taking place on March 1 and finals taking place on March 3. Finals will be broadcast live on Peacock TV and SkiAndSnowboard.live at 11 p.m. Mountain Standard Time.
Silverthorne’s Chris Corning and Jake Canter were both named to the men’s U.S. snowboard slopestyle team and will compete in Georgia on Friday, Feb. 24, in qualifiers for a chance to make it to the final on Monday, Feb. 27.
The slopestyle final will be live streamed on Peacock TV and SkiAndSnowboard.live at 2 a.m. Mountain Standard Time.