Summit’s Olivero: Don’t miss Dew Tour, which heads to Copper this week

Antonio Olivero
Summit Daily

With its new date later in the season, this year’s Dew Tour at Copper Mountain Resort will be an event full of storylines of redemption and validation rather than start-of-the-season declarations.

This week’s Dew Tour won’t be a launching point as the first major competition of the season, as the event was in years past in December at Breckenridge Ski Resort. In the wake of last month’s X Games Aspen and last week’s Land Rover U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain in California, Dew Tour will be a follow-up opportunity for names like American snowboarders Chris Corning and Danny Davis and Austrian star Anna Gasser.

Then there are other athletes — like defending Dew Tour champions Scotty James of Australia (snowboard modified superpipe), Alex Ferreira of Aspen (ski modified superpipe) and Estonian teen phenom Kelly Sildaru (ski slopestyle) — who will look to cement the fact that they are the best athletes in their respective disciplines after each also won gold in the same events two weeks ago in Aspen. On the snowboard side, a Dew Tour podium for boundary-pushing riders like Gasser and Silverthorne’s Corning would propel them with confidence into the final major snowboarding event of the season: the Burton U.S. Open later this month at Vail Mountain.

As for the skiers, elite competitors like halfpipe stars Cassie Sharpe of Canada and Aaron Blunck of Crested Butte are no doubt eager to try to tame Woodward Copper’s first modified superpipe — the Dew Tour’s crown jewel this year at Copper’s Center Village — in order to show that the X Games 2020 ski superpipe champs Sildaru and Ferreira have some competition for the title of “best halfpipe skier in the world.” Both Sharpe and Blunck got back on the right track with wins in the Mammoth superpipe this past weekend.

At 9 a.m. Sunday, it’ll be fascinating to see the two Coloradans Blunck and Ferreira dual it out once again for the title of world’s best pipe skier. Or, would it be the title of best “pipestyle” skier? That term is the phrase two-time reigning Olympic men’s freeski halfpipe gold medalist David Wise used to describe the modified superpipe at last winter’s Dew Tour in Breckenridge.

Wise, a four-time X Games Aspen gold medalist, said in December 2018 that halfpipe skiing and snowboarding had become “a little bit stagnant.”

“We are staring at what could be the end of our sport,” Wise said in Breckenridge last year. “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.”

The Dew Tour had taken notice, hence the 2018 modified pipe. The X Games and Burton Open followed suit, with X Games changing its competition and scoring format while adding a “superpipe session” for men’s snowboarders. The Burton Open this year will have a modified pipe.

This week’s modified pipe at Copper might just be the best course yet to challenge skiers and riders in the pipestyle spirit. With mirrored transition and slopestyle-like features constructed above 300 feet of the 22-foot-tall Woodward Copper superpipe, it’ll be a captivating setting to see halfpipe stars like Blunck, Ferreira and Mammoth Mountain women’s snowboard halfpipe champion Maddie Mastro of California lace together inventive lines.

But then there are other athletes who typically compete in slopestyle and big air, including American women’s snowboard legend Jamie Anderson and Norwegian multitime X Games medalist Birk Ruud, who are slated to drop into the modified pipe.

Out of the pipe, the slopestyle course over in Woodward Copper’s Central Park might host the most competitive contest this week: men’s snowboard slopestyle. At Friday’s qualifying round at 9:15 a.m., Silverthorne local Red Gerard will look to make it through to Saturday’s final at 10:45 a.m. after spending a week in the backcountry of Japan post bronze-medal win at X Games Aspen.

Canadian star Mark McMorris will be motivated to return to the slopestyle podium after not succeeding in the new format in Aspen. A host of other capable fan favorites — from X Games champ Darcy Sharpe, to his fellow Canadian star X Games big air champ Max Parrot, to rising Americans Judd Henkes and Luke Winkelmann — will vie for Dew Tour glory.

And then there’s the streetstyle course. Hosted in Gerard’s new Red’s Backyard rail garden adjacent to the superpipe in Center Village, Dew Tour is expanding its streetstyle competitions. The course will be open to the public Sunday after stylish riders like Darcy Sharpe, Brandon Davis, Zak Hale and local Colorado Never Summer rider Dylan Alito hit the course as Saturday’s nightcap under the lights at 6:45 p.m.

Whatever competition you are most excited about, come to the free event at Copper to see Summit County’s ski and snowboard Super Bowl.