Scotty James wins Dew Tour snowboard modified pipe for 11th straight victory

Antonio Olivero
Summit Daily

women’s slopestyle

The women’s slopestyle contests closed out Dew Tour on Sunday. Tahoe’s Jamie Anderson took the snowboard title with a score of 92.66, beating Japan’s Miyabi Onitsuka (91.66) and Austria’s Anna Gasser (88). Anderson also won X Games Aspen gold last month.

In ski slopestyle, it was Switzerland’s Mathilde Gremaud who scored 94.66 for arguably her biggest career win. The 2018 Olympic silver medalist held off Norway’s Johanne Killi (93.33) and Montana’s Maggie Voisin (89.33). Estonian star Kelly Sildaru, who won slopestyle gold at X Games Aspen last month, did not compete.

COPPER MOUNTAIN — Two days after he rode what he described as probably the deepest powder day he’d ever had in his life, Scotty James stared down his latest challenge: to win an 11th straight halfpipe competition on a beast of a modified superpipe course at Dew Tour at Copper Mountain Resort.

Of all the wins he’s had since his bronze at the 2018 Olympics, this year’s Dew Tour presented a different kind of challenge. Three feet of fresh powder at the resort over the previous two days, including 5 inches overnight, made the tight, technical course even more of a monster.

Namely, the transition landing from the upper slopestyle-like modified section of the course waterfalling into the traditional superpipe at the bottom was a minefield for the world’s best skiers and snowboarders. Uneven surface snow in the form of tough-to-read packed powder was aplenty on this crucial part of the course, where many skiers and snowboarders failed to stay upright.

“We are coming out with quite a lot of speed from that transition and then you have to slow down and find yourself again to then drop into the halfpipe,” James said. “So that was pretty challenging for me. … We had to navigate through a few bumps, and that was really caused by us trying to slow down. It created bumps in the course and that was probably pretty challenging. That was the hardest for me.”

But it didn’t look hard for James. Dropping in last in one of the most talented 10-rider fields this season, James earned a score of 95.33 on his first run through the course. He followed that up with a 94.33 on his second run — the second highest score of any rider on the day — and a celebratory final run through the course that featured a massive switch method air on the first modified feature at the top of the course and another massive method on the final hit of the pipe.

On his top-scoring first run through the course, James began by riding his snowboard backward into a switch backside Michalchuk — an off-axis 540 spin — over the first feature’s channel. On the next and final modified feature, James threw a big cab double-cork 900 off the quarter-pipe side hit into the waterfall landing transitioning into the 300-foot long traditional pipe portion of the course.

In the 22-foot-high pipe, James sent a frontside double-cork 1260 with a stylish stalefish grab, landing it high on the pipe wall to keep his speed into a perfect backside 1260, after which he raised his trademark red boxing-glove mittens in celebration.

For James, the first run was worth all that extra time he spent practicing on the tricky Copper modified pipe, where features can sneak up on you if you’re not careful.

“This one’s a lot tighter, much quicker. You have to think much faster. Last year was a little more wide open,” James said about the course at Breckenridge Ski Resort. “They did a really good job here with the space they have here at Copper to kind of get creative.”

James was joined on the podium by high-flying Japanese 18-year-old Yuto Totsuka (93.33) and Pat Burgener, 25, of Switzerland (91.00). Totsuka nearly bested James on his third run through the course, which began with an alley-oop 360 with a switch landing on the first feature’s hip. On the second modified feature, Totsuka, similar to James, landed a cab double-cork 900 before keeping his speed and dropping into the traditional pipe from the top.

Totsuka then went huge on his first hit in the pipe with a massive 1440, keeping his speed into a switch-to-switch cab double-cork 1260 to round off his run. While Totsuka waited for his score in the corral, his Japanese coaches celebrated up top. Alas, it wasn’t enough to best James.

As for the Americans, Chase Josey of Idaho once again finished in fourth at a major competition, just missing the podium with a score of 90.66. The U.S. then had five riders finish sixth through 10th, including veteran Danny Davis, who influenced the modified pipe concept. Davis earned an 85.00 with a cab 900 on the modified transition into the pipe before landing a frontside double-cork 1080 at the bottom of the pipe. After Davis’ run, slopestyle runner-up Brock Crouch dropped in and poached a line to join his Burton buddy at the bottom.

Eagle’s Jake Pates earned a seventh-place score of 78.66 on his first run through the pipe while Californian youngster Toby Miller and Steamboat Springs native and Breckenridge resident Taylor Gold each struggled to land inventive tricks on the second modified features, finishing in ninth and 10th, respectively.

After his win, James put in context what it means to him to continue his domination in halfpipe competitions despite the course changes that are meant to make things more competitive.

“This shows that you got to have board control,” James said. “You’ve got to have air awareness. You’ve got to have style in some ways that separates yourself from the group. You’ve got to know how to snowboard to ride these modified halfpipes. It’s not the gymnast-style thing that can definitely start to happen.”