Summit County 11-year-old Patti Zhou takes 2nd in snowboard superpipe final at day 1 of the Winter Dew Tour
Summit's Ben Harrington places fifth in men's freeski superpipe final
After not hosting Dew Tour in 2022, the Winter Dew Tour made its triumphant return to Copper Mountain Resort on Saturday, and two Summit County residents made the most of their time on home snow, including 11-year-old phenom Patti Zhou, on Saturday, Feb. 25.
The first day of competition on Saturday did not disappoint as the event kicked off with the men’s freeski superpipe final and the women’s snowboard superpipe final.
Women’s snowboard superpipe final
In the women’s snowboard superpipe final, a shootout occurred between 14-year-old Korean rider Gaon Choi and 11-year-old Copper Mountain athlete and Summit County resident Patti Zhou.
With a large cheering section for Zhou, the 11-year-old prodigy dropped into the 22-foot superpipe for her first run of the day.
Zhou — who was born in Beijing and competes for China — successfully completed a backside 720 and switch backside 720 on her first run. The performance earned the Copper celebrity a score of 89.33 to put the competition on watch and move into first place overall as the youngest-ever Winter Dew Tour competitor.
Zhou enjoyed first place for about a minute before Choi topped her with a 91.33 in her close-to-perfect first run.
With Zhou and Choi properly warmed up, the duo continued to ramp up their difficulty and execution.
Zhou had another clean run on her second attempt of the day. She strung together a backside 900, frontside 720 and switch backside 540 to improve her score to 90.66, but it wasn’t enough to top Choi’s first run.
Choi continued to go big on her second and third runs. She scored 95.66 on her second run before stomping a 1080 to bring her score to a practically untouchable 98.33.
After falling on her third run, Zhou knew she needed an impressive run if she wanted to top Choi. She tried to go as big as she could on her final run but got dragged up in the flat bottom of the pipe and took a fall.
With an eruption of applause from the crowd, Zhou finished in second place with a score of 90.66.
“Oh my god, I feel so stoked,” Zhou said. “These crowds made me feel more excited and I was just like “let’s do this, let’s get it.” I just tried my best. I didn’t care if I fell and now I am in second place. I am so happy and thank you to everyone who made this happen. Thank you.”
Choi placed first with a top run score of 98.33 while Mammoth Mountain’s Bea Kim placed third with a score of 80.
Summit County‘s Summer Fenton placed fifth overall with a score of 76, while Mammoth Mountain’s Sonny Alba placed fourth.
Men’s freeski superpipe final
Three Colorado locals spearheaded the competition in the men’s freeski superpipe final: Summit County’s Ben Harrington, Crested Butte’s Aaron Blunck and Aspen’s Alex Ferreira.
Harrington — who is a coach with Team Summit and skis for New Zealand — was eager to return to the Dew Tour men’s freeski superpipe competition after making his Dew Tour debut in 2021.
He entered the pipe for his first run of four eager to improve upon his 11th place finish from 2021. Harrington and Blunck both put together fairly clean runs, but failed to top Nevada’s David Wise who recorded a score of 87 to pull into first place.
Harrington worked to turn up the heat on his second run of the day. The Team Summit coach completed a right-side 1260, but bobbled a little upon landing. The run improved Harrington’s score from a 53 to a 67.
With many members of his family in attendance, Blunck went bigger on his tricks on his second run and improved upon his first run to boost his score from 79.66 to 84 on his second run.
After a shaky first run, Ferreira performed a left-side double cork 1260 to score 79.33 and start knocking on the door for a podium spot.
On the third round of runs, Canada’s Brendan Mackay took the competition to a new level as the 2022 Olympian recorded a score of 90.66, putting a decent gap between him and the rest of the competition.
Entering the fourth round of runs, the competition could best be described as a pressure cooker with Harrington, Blunck and Ferreira working to push their scores into the 90s.
Harrington tried to go massive on his final run, but washed out, finishing in fifth place overall with a top run score of 76.66 on his third run of the day.
“I was really hyped,” Harrington said. “That was the best run I have ever done in a contest and to be up there with all those boys I have looked up to my whole life was pretty sick. I have all my Team Summit athletes in the crowd watching and it was such a blast.”
Like Harrington, Blunck was not able to put a clean run together on his final run. Instead, he hit the lip at the top of the pipe and was forced to ski out. Despite the disappointing final run, Blunck finished in third place overall.
“I am absolutely stoked,” Blunck said of placing third. “It has been a really rough season for me just with battling injuries. I broke my shoulder early in December and have been dealing with it all season. I came out here just trying to have fun and to end up on the podium is definitely the cherry on top.”
Ferreira did what he could to jump up from fourth place on his final, but lost amplitude and bobbled while reentering the pipe. Ferreira improved his score from his second run, but finished in fourth with a score of 82.33.
Mackay took home the Winter Dew Tour title while Wise placed second with a top run score of 87.
Competition resumed Sunday, with the men’s snowboard superpipe, women’s ski super streetstyle and men’s snowboard super streetstyle competitions.
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