The 2012-2013 freeskiing competition circuit kicks off this week as the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships rolls into Breckenridge, Colorado. The Breck stop is the only one on the tour this year—a break from the three in years previous—so athletes will have to bring it and bring it early. For the first time ever, we'll have Dew Tour overall champions by mid-December.
So what are we watching for? If history is any indicator, the men's side could be looking at yet another new, and very boyish, face on the podium. The last two years have seen teens Torin Yater-Wallace and Nick Goepper rise from relative obscurity, ditch high school geometry class, and knock their childhood heroes off the podium. Andy Partridge and Jesper Tjäder are this year's young guns and could very well shake things up in slopestyle. Partridge lays claim to a bevy of big-boy tricks, while Tjäder spun into the future last year, landing the first 1350 out. Other than that, it's the usual suspects on hand for slope, pipe, and big air glory, with a cameo from legend Tanner Hall—fresh off a win at the World Cup—in the superpipe competition.
For the women, Kaya Turski has finished first in every Dew Tour stop she has ever competed in, and chances are she'd like to keep that streak alive. Keri Herman and Anna Segal are frontrunners to dethrone the queen of slope, but keep an eye out for 17-year-old dark horse Dara Howell, who finished third in Euro X slope and third in the season's first World Cup stop. With no women's big air this year, the slopestyle competition holds added importance, with only one title on the line for the booter-inclined. Women's superpipe is wide open this year, but Roz Groenwood and Brita Sigourney have had the most big venue success out of this year's field.
The lone Dew Tour stop this year, Breck stepped up its game with a massive seven-feature slopestyle course. In addition to four booters, the three triple-option rail features that Breck Terrain Park Supervisor Eric Armfield considers, "the best rail sets we've ever had for Dew Tour," offer up plenty of room for creative separation. A gnarly up rail to gap to tank is just one of the features that has competitors drooling—while scaring the crap out of the rest of us.
The finals kick off today with the men's big air final, followed by men's and women's superpipe finals on Friday, and men's and women's slopestyle finals on Sunday. For those uncomfortable with down days, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis spice up the Saturday lineup with a concert at Breck's Riverwalk Center. That's a busy little weekend.