Steamboat’s Taylor Gold soars into second place in men’s superpipe final to conclude the Winter Dew Tour

Gold matches 2nd place finish from 2021 Winter Dew Tour

Cody Jones
Summit Daily News
Taylor Gold flies high into the air during the men's superpipe final in the Dew Tour at Copper Mountain on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023. Gold took home second place.
Liz Copan/For the Summit Daily News

The last day of the Winter Dew Tour is always a bittersweet day for athletes and spectators alike. On one hand, participants are sad the skiing and snowboarding event is coming to a close, but on the other the competitors put on a final show, throwing down big tricks in hopes of winning a Dew Tour title.

The conclusion of the 2023 Winter Dew Tour on Sunday, Feb. 26, didn’t disappoint, ending the event until the Dew Tour returns to Copper Mountain resort next winter.

Men’s snowboard superpipe final 

Sunday kicked off with an electric men’s snowboard superpipe final. With Summit’s Taylor Gold, Ryan Wachendorfer and Siddhartha Ullah in the eight-man final, the odds were high that at least one athlete would finish on the podium. 

Making his Dew Tour debut next to his snowboarding idols in Danny Davis and Ayumu Hirano, Ullah dropped into the 22-foot superpipe for his first run of the day. With each rider getting four runs to earn their best score, Ullah warmed into the competition by executing on a backside air, a 900, a 540 and an alley oop. The run earned Ullah a respectable first run score of 44.

Wachendorfer came out swinging on his first run of the day. Wachendorfer strung together a front side 1260, double Michalchuk, double 1080 and switch double 1260 to dazzle the judges early on in the competition.

Stating that the run was perhaps the best he has ever done in his career, Wachendorfer earned a score of  87.66 to be in first place after the first round of runs.

Wachendorfer, Ullah and Gold failed to have clean runs on their second runs while a massive second run from Japan’s Raibu Katayama brought the scores into the 90’s with a score of 90.0. 

Halfway through the contest, Wachendorfer sat in second place while Winter Park’s Jason Wolle maintained third.

Ullah attempted to mix things up on his third run, but failed to impress the judges enough to improve his score. Wachendorfer made a double 1080 and a double 1260 look easy on his penultimate run, but despite the tricks looking effortless in the air, Wachendorfer stuck with his first-run score of 87.66.

With Japanese rider Hirano boosting to the top of the leaderboard with a score of 93, Gold ideally needed a clean run on his third run in order to feel comfortable going into the final run. Gold looked solid all the way down the pipe, but he ran out of pipe, causing him to fall. 

On his final run, Wachendorfer sat in third place overall and knew he needed a run that would solidify his spot on the podium.

Wachendorfer landed a 1260, a 1080 and a cab 1080 with a hand drag, but the fury of tricks did not surpass his first-run score. Wachendorfer nervously waited out the rest of the competition to see if his score would be enough to earn a spot on the podium.

Following Hirano’s massive run of 96.66 to further distance himself from the competition, Gold had to land a near-perfect run. 

As the last rider to drop into the pipe, Gold came up clutch and put down a clean frontside 1260, double Michalchuk, a drifting melon grab fakie and a cab 1080.

The impressive run had everyone holding their breath for the Colorado native. In the end the run was enough for a score of 91.33 from the judges, rocketing Gold into second place.

“It felt really good,” Gold said of his second-place finish. “I had a good practice which sometimes is a curse, and today it ended up being a bit of a curse because I ended up falling a bunch. Anytime you have one run left and can put it down there is such relief and elation. I was really psyched.”

Taylor Gold is congratulated on his second-place finish in the men’s snowboard superpipe final in the Dew Tour at Copper Mountain on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023.
Liz Copan / For the Summit Daily News

Hirano and Gold placed first and second respectively, while Katayama placed third. 

Wachendorfer was pushed to fourth while Ullah finished in 8th.

Like Red Gerard — who pulled out of the Dew Tour’s snowboard super streetstyle competition due to sickness — Gold has spent the majority of the 2022-23 season recovering after a stressful Olympic year last season. 

Instead of competing in a massive slate of competitions, Gold has spent his time enjoying trips to Steamboat Springs as well as Japan.

“I have definitely taken a more mellow year this year,” Gold said. “Last season was insane. The whole process of getting to the Olympics is extremely stressful and then you have COVID on top of that. I have only done this contest and the Copper Grand Prix, so I have been able to ride a lot more for me — ride more pow. I kind of want to work more into that side of snowboarding.”

Gold intends to spend the rest of the winter enjoying the snow and recovering before the 2023-24 competition season. 

Women’s snowboard streetstyle 

Prior to snowboarding and skiing action on Sunday, Saturday’s action concluded with the women’s snowboard and men’s skiing streetstyle competitions under the lights at the base of Copper.

After placing second in the women’s snowboard superpipe final earlier in the day, 11-year-old Summit resident Patti Zhou continued to ride exceptionally in the qualifying round of the women’s snowboard super streetstyle competition.

Zhou easily advanced to the knock-out round of Heat 1, while Summit’s Kaitlyn Adams tried to qualify out of heat two. 

Adams had a decent first run, but she cleaned up her approach on her second run and moved from third to second in her heat with a score of 87. 

Moments before Adams’ final run , a massive run from Denver’s Egan Wint, pushed Adams to third going into her final run. With the top two riders advancing to the knock-out round, Adams needed to improve upon her position to advance. Adams wavered on the final rail feature and failed to score high enough to advance to the next round.

In the knock-out round, Zhou faced 23-year-old Alexis Hernandez-Roland out of Bloomington, Minnesota. Zhou held her own against Hernandez-Roland but failed to advance to the final round of three riders.

Hernandez-Roland, Wint and Denmark’s Maria Thomsen battled in the final heat. Hernandez-Roland ended up finishing in first place with a top score in finals of 82.33 while Wint placed second with a score of 75.66.

“The features were all really good,” Hernandez-Roland said. “Everything was built really well. With it being four tiers and the way that it was, it was definitely a challenge, but a good challenge.”

Thomsen rounded out the podium in third with a score of 60.

Men’s ski streetstyle 

The men’s ski streetstyle competition was topped by Park City’s Colby Stevenson with a score of 92.66 in the final round of runs.

Stevenson was followed by Hood River, Oregon, skier Tucker FitzSimons in second with a score of 89.33 and Park City’s Alex Hall in third with a score of 70.

“It was awesome,” Stevenson said. “I thought it was a creative format and definitely challenging. Good for the brain, exercise the creativity side of it.”

Superpipe high air and best trick jam 

Immediately following the men’s superpipe final, skiers and riders converged for a lighthearted superpipe high air and best trick jam. 

With snow starting to pour down on the Copper area, Hunter Hess won the competition’s highest ski air award while Hirano added two more titles to his resume.

Hirano launched 22.8 feet above the superpipe wall to win the highest snowboard air award and also won the most valuable player award.

Crested Butte’s Aaron Blunck won the “best drip” award for his vibrant orange ski suit while Copper’s favorite 11-year-old—Zhou — won the award for having the “best time” in the pipe.

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