Snowboarder Jake Pates, of Eagle, qualifies in 2nd for Dew Tour halfpipe finals | SteamboatToday.com

Snowboarder Jake Pates, of Eagle, qualifies in 2nd for Dew Tour halfpipe finals

John LaConte
jlaconte@vaildaily.com

BRECKENRIDGE — On a day where every member of the U.S. Pro Halfpipe Team advanced to finals, judges found Eagle snowboarder Jake Pates' run to be the second best on the day for the men at the Dew Tour on Thursday, Dec. 14.

Edwards resident Ryan Wachendorfer also made the Friday, Dec. 15, final as the last person admitted.

The team atmosphere is an especially supportive one, Pates and Wachendorfer said, and seeing everyone qualify on Thursday made things especially fun. Pates said making finals takes away some of the nerves surrounding the competition.

"I think there's more pressure in the qualifiers, honestly, because it's a bigger deal to just get to finals," Pates said. "Once you get to finals, it's a relief."

THE LUCK FACTOR

The Dew Tour is the second Olympic qualifier of the season, with last week's U.S. Grand Prix World Cup serving as the first. Pates found himself unlucky at the Grand Prix, notching a top-10 score but not making the top-10 final due to the way the heats were formatted, with two heats taking five competitors each. Wednesday's Dew Tour had only 23 competitors compared to the 40 that took to the pipe at Copper Mountain last week for the Grand Prix.

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"There's less people here so they didn't have to divide us up," Pates said. "I liked it better this way."

The Dew Tour also takes 12 men to finals, rather than the 10-person final of the Grand Prix, so only 11 competitors were eliminated. Among those eliminated were Shaun White and Louie Vito, who are not on the U.S. Team but competing this season nonetheless. Sitting in the "bubble" position of 12th, Wachendorfer had to watch a couple legends of the sport crash and get eliminated.

"I was toward the end of the pack, but I still had to watch Louie (Vito) and Shaun (White) go," Wachendorfer said. "Neither one of them put it down, so I got pretty lucky."

After seeing his friend Pates on the unfortunate side of the luck scale last week, Wachendorfer found himself able to tip the balance into his favor this week.

"On the first run I did, I fell, but the (judges' monitors) cut out right before I dropped, so they actually gave me a re-run because they didn't see my run," Wachendorfer said.

Capitalizing on the mishap, Wachendorfer managed to land a run on the second attempt.

"It wasn't really what I was looking to do, but it was something," he said.

SNOWY CONDITIONS

On Thursday morning, Breckenridge reported 6 inches of new snow over the previous 24 hours, and flakes continued to fall throughout the competition. The snow slowed down the snowboarders as they took on the halfpipe, making amplitude difficult to obtain.

Pates said the snow wasn't playing to anyone's favor.

"There wasn't much speed, but I tried to go as big as I could and be as smooth as I could," he said.

Pates said those factors — air and style — were what gave him his 81.66 score. His run contained a "double chuk," a double backflip named after Olympian Michael Michalchuk, followed by back-to-back double-cork 1080 and back-to-back 900 degree spins. The run wasn't as good as what he put down last week at Copper, objectively speaking (the Copper run notched a higher score), but in the snowy conditions, the competitors in the men's field were not scoring very high. Ben Ferguson, who led the Americans at Copper, also led the entire field in Thursady's Dew Tour qualifiers with a score of 83.33.

On the women's side the scores were much higher, with California rider Chloe Kim besting the field with a 93.33. Maddie Mastro, also of California, stomped a solid run as well with a 91.66 and Kelly Clark, of Vermont, finished third with a score of 89.00.

The women are schedule to compete in Friday's finals at 2:15 p.m., with the men set to drop in at 12:30 p.m.

FRIDAY’S HALFPIPE FINALS

Dew Tour Olympic qualifier event

MEN

Ben Ferguson, USA

Jake Pates, USA

Gabe Ferguson, USA

Scotty James, AUS

Iouri Podladtchikov, SUI

Ayumu Hirano, JPN

Greg Bretz, USA

Chase Josey, USA

Danny Davis, USA

Markus Malin, FIN

Jan Scherrer, SUI

Ryan Wachendorfer, USA

WOMEN

Chloe Kim, USA

Maddie Mastro, USA

Kelly Clark, USA

Elena Hight, USA

Mirabelle Thovex, FRA

Queralt Castellet, SPA

Arielle Gold, USA

Hannah Teter, USA

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