Riders got their second and final full day of practice on the Dew Tour Slopestyle course on Tuesday: the Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle Qualifier starts at 9:15 a.m. MST, followed by the Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle Qualifier at 12:15 p.m. (but be sure to check the schedule for weather-related schedule changes: something about Dew Tour in Colorado always seems to invite the storm).
Jamie Anderson, the defending 2020 Dew Tour Women’s Slopestyle gold medalist, said she loves the course and felt good on it in practice. “It’s fun and it’s creative,” Anderson said. “It’s a little tight, but I think it’s a really amazing course: they’ve done a really great job with what they have here.
Anderson has won an astounding 11 Dew Tour Slopestyle events, and she’s still the one to beat, fresh off of double gold in Slopestyle and Big Air at X Games in 2021. “It’s a pretty stressful year, coming into the Olympics, so I’m just trying to stay chill and take it one day at a time,” she said.
A highlight of the second day of practice was seeing Australian Dew Tour rookie Tess Coady launch a wallie crippler from the smaller of two wallride features at the top of the course, earning oohs and ahhs from all of her competitors.
“I’m just trying to be creative and show some style because I’m so stoked to be out here,” Coady said after the practice. “I’m just trying to be playful and show people I’m having fun on the board, and hopefully I can make it through the quali and get to ride the final on Saturday..”
Coady grew up in Melbourne but said she spent several seasons living at Copper Mountain when she was younger and credits the resort’s Woodward at Copper camps and programs for helping her progress to the Dew Tour stage. This week, she’s looking forward to cheering on her Aussie countrymen and adaptive banked slalom dominator Ben Tudhope.
“I’d put $1,000 on Tuddy for the win in the adaptive race,” Coady boasts. “It means a lot to me to be here with those guys representing Australia. I’m really proud of my country and I miss it a lot when I’m overseas, so I really try to carry the flag high.”
Nobody was more stoked than Ellie Weiler, a young rider from Colorado who found herself surprised to be in from the alternate list and will get to compete on Wednesday. Weiler won the Revolution Tour here at Copper Mountain in March 2021, a FIS event one tier below the World Cup events, and said she couldn’t help fanning out during practice on some of her favorite riders she grew up looking up to.
“It’s my first Dew Tour, my first pro-level event, and practice has been tons of fun, so I’ve got no complaints,” Weiler said. “I hope it works out just as well tomorrow because I’d love to prove that I belong here.”
Mark McMorris, who last won Dew Tour gold in 2016 but has been a Slopestyle dominator at X Games and other contests, said he spent practice adapting to the tight, technical course for this year’s Slopestyle events.
“The vibes are big, but the course is a little small, so we’ve all got to adapt: it’s been a really tough early snow season, so kudos to SPT(Snowpark Technologies) and the Woodward Copper crew for making something work,” McMorris said. “The challenge on a smaller course is just to adapt, try to stay on your toes, try to find good lines, and try to separate yourself: winning this contest is going to take a creative approach, good flow, and good speed, but I think we’ll still see some big tricks go down. Everyone was riding great in practice.”
Canadian rider Sebastien Toutant said he thinks the place to set himself apart will be at the top of the course, on the rails.
“I think it’s cool, because the judges are going to reward rail tricks heavily and aren’t only looking for the big spins,” Toutant said. “Mainly, it feels nice to see all the boys out here: I feel like I’ve been at home more in the last two years than ever before, so it’s good to be on the road snowboarding again.”
The Snowboard Superpipe qualifiers presented by Toyota aren’t until Thursday, but Tuesday’s practices were heavy, nonetheless.
Watch for a history-making frontside double cork 1080 this week from Maddie Mastro, who finished 2nd at Dew Tour in 2020: she learned it this fall at Saas-Fee, Switzerland and aims to try it on Thursday if conditions feel right. If things are really feeling good, Mastro said she would like to put it in a run that includes the double crippler that became a signature of contest runs last season.
“My career has always been about wanting to do what the boys are doing and progress it that way, and naturally that path was doubled,” Mastro said. “I’m stoked that I was able to make that happen and do them consistently: I think it’s important to have doubles in women’s snowboarding. I think they belong… I just want to keep pushing it in that direction.”
Spanish rider Queralt Castellet, who finished 3rd in the pipe at Dew Tour in 2020 and also finished 3rd last week in the U.S. Grand Prix here at Copper Mountain, looked especially strong in Tuesday’s practice, with her new coach Danny Kass helping her out and filming some lines for her. Castellet, now 31, said she feels blessed to be riding better than ever.
“I’m still learning every day that I’m on my board and I’m really really enjoying that every year that I’m snowboarding I’m still progressing, still getting better. Even today, I feel like I’m better after this practice than I was last week! Snowboarding is very rewarding like that: you put in effort and it gives back. And, you know, it’s amazing.”
Sonny Alba, a young rider from California who finished 7th in her Dew Tour debut in 2020, said she was happy to be riding well and landing 720s in practice despite riding in a brace for an injured right shoulder.
“The pipe is great and it’s so fun to be here at Copper Mountain for back-to-back contests, and I’m also looking forward to that final Olympic qualifier next month at Mammoth, because that’s my home mountain,” Alba said.
There’s a chance for history to go down in the men’s competition, too: after Tuesday’s practice, Yuto Totsuka said he very much has the new frontside triple cork 1440 he learned at the Stomping Grounds in Switzerland on his mind.
“I’ve been very, very lucky to win so many contests last year and knew I had to learn something new to keep going,” Totsuka said, via translator Yuki Uchido. “Now that I know it can be done and that I can do it, I have to do it.”
Toby Miller, vying for one of four spots on the men’s team for the 2022 Beijing Olympics, said he’s relieved to be back in the mix after an injury kept him out of contests last season.
“It feels so good to be back and everybody’s riding incredible,” Miller said after Tuesday’s practice. “The venue is absolutely unreal, the halfpipe is amazing, and the crowd here at Copper is always great. It’s gonna be a good show, and I’m really, really excited.”
Miller said he thinks there could be three or more riders trying triples in the final, and can’t wait to see it go down.
“At the training sessions this fall in Switzerland, the sport was changed: we’’re now seeing tricks go down that people have previously deemed impossible and that I never thought I would see. I’m not trying triples just yet, but I learned a new Cab double cork 1440 that I’m really excited about and has been a big one for me. So, coming into this event, knowing that I have back-to-back 1440s and a variety of rotations, and knowing that I’m probably going to be part fo the craziest contest of all time, feels good. My injury last season was a huge setback, but now I feel like a stronger athlete mentally and physically than I did before it, and I have a whole new bag of tricks I didn’t have last season, so I’m feeling really good.”