Well-rested Shaun White wins at Breckenridge slopestyle
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. ” The conditions in Breckenridge for Friday’s men’s and women’s snowboard slopestyle finals were far from ideal. Wind gusts, snow flurries and frigid temperatures left more riders on their backsides than on their front edges.
Add in that riders were competing for the first trophies to be handed out in Winter Dew Tour history, and it was a pressure-packed day.
So what did Shaun White do to prepare?
“I’ve been sleeping this whole time,” the seven-time Winter X Games champion said with a laugh. “I was so tired from [a competition in] Japan … I had to rest and just sit in the bath the last few days.”
Well, White’s performance in the finals certainly made sure everyone watching was wide awake.
The 22-year-old landed a switch backside 1260 on the final jump of his final run to overtake Mikkel Bang of Norway for the title.
“I knew that I could do it,” White said of the three-and-a-half rotation spin. “I hadn’t practiced it at all, but I knew that I had it in me.”
And White needed it. After laying down an impressive first run, he was in first place with 91.83 points. Two riders later, Bang put up 92.33.
White had to do something to up his score.
“The last time I did [a 1260] it was in the X Games last season and I fell, which kind of cost me the thing,” White said. “In my mind, I broke it down in the spin and realized why I wasn’t landing it. … And it worked.”
Bang came into the finals as the top qualifier after earning a spot through open qualifying on Wednesday. His performance on the week far exceeded his expectations coming in to the event, considering his only goal was to be able to get on the mountain to ride.
“[It was] just better than I could have ever expected,” the 18-year-old said.
As for the performance of the man who beat him?
“He’s a really talented rider and a living legend,” Bang said.
Janne Korpi of Finland finished a distant third.
Though White picked up the top hardware on the men’s side, it was Canadian Spencer O’Brien who was awarded the first trophy in the inaugural three-stop event.
O’Brien waited out intense wind gusts before dropping in for her second run, adding to the drama of being the event’s final rider.
“The wind was really affecting everybody’s runs,” O’Brien said. ” … Luckily, they let me wait it out.”
O’Brien stuck a difficult switch, backside 780 to start her second run and carved out a score of 85. The run vaulted her over Jenny Jones of Great Britain (77.33) and American Bev Vuilleumier (74.17).
O’Brien’s win put an end to a busy day for the men and women, who had to go through preliminary rounds earlier in the morning.
“It was a long day,” O’Brien said. “I’m beat now, but it was worth it.”
White, who spent last weekend winning a superpipe contest in Japan, never took a single practice run on the slopestyle course prior to Friday. Regardless, his slopestyle victory puts him one step closer to his ultimate goal of becoming the first person to win an overall title in both the Summer and Winter Dew Tours.
“I might as well go for it,” White said.
White will compete today in the preliminary round of men’s superpipe. If he makes it through the qualifying, he’ll earn a spot in Sunday’s finals.
Either way, the 2006 Olympic gold medalist hopes for a little better weather.
“It was pretty brutal,” he said of Friday’s conditions. “You [couldn’t] really see … but it was cool to just kind of put my head down and bust through it.”
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