Nearly three years ago, competitive slopestyle and halfpipe skiing leapt into the mainstream, making their Olympic debut at the Sochi 2014 Games. Since then, the sports have been widely accepted on the international stage, but, according to many skiers, that acceptance has come at a cost.
For a sport that’s greatest fear is stagnation, the competitive scene has become static and courses formulaic, suppressing a creativity that arguably put freeskiing on the map in the first place.
This year, the Dew Tour in Breckenridge, Colorado, is aiming to change that, offering a unique event format and innovative course design change that could send aftershocks through the competitive ski world.
Running from December 8-11, the season’s first major ski and snowboard competition still includes men’s and women’s halfpipe and slopestyle competitions, but features a modified halfpipe and a two-tiered slopestyle course—with separate jump and jib sections—for the 2016 edition.
Designed by Snowpark Technologies, the reimagined Dew Tour halfpipe has two hip jumps at the pipe entrance and a waterfall jump at the exit, giving skiers a chance to switch up their runs and bring new tricks to the table.
In addition, this year’s slopestyle competition will be split into two parts—a jumps section and a rail section. Each skier will hit these sections separately with six runs total (three in the jumps and three in the jibs) to tally an overall average score.
The event kicks off with the 17th Annual Powder Awards, bringing the best and rowdiest in skiing under one roof to celebrate this year’s top ski movies. This year’s Powder Awards will be held at the Riverwalk Center in downtown Breck.
Competitive action gets started Friday with the women’s modified halfpipe followed by women’s slopestyle (both the jump and jib portions). That evening the best urban skiers in the game take to the streets for Dew Tour’s popular Streetstyle Competition.
On Saturday, an all new Ski Team final takes center stage, with one skier from each team competing in each of the three disciplines (modified pipe, slopestyle jumps, slopestyle jib) to see which brand will wear the 2016 crown.
Action wraps up Sunday with the men’s ski events, starting with modified pipe finals before moving over to the slopestyle jump and jib portions.
In addition to Powder Awards and ski events, Dew Tour is also bringing in musical artist A-Trak and Joey Bada$$ for a Saturday night show in downtown Breck.
It’s the first go-around for the Dew Tour’s new take on competitive skiing, and the organizers are the first to admit that this year’s event is nowhere near a finished product. But the 2016 alterations are a sign that the series is open to change and not afraid to get a little weird with it. For those worried about halfpipe and slopestyle turning into competitive aerials with baggier outerwear and a sharper haircut, that’s a welcome breath of fresh air.
Full disclosure: The Enthusiast Network, POWDER’s parent company, is producing the Dew Tour.