The 2015 Dew Tour rolled into Breckenridge this week for its eighth consecutive winter in the Colorado mountain town. Though the lifts up on your home hill may have recently creaked back to life, it's this four-day kickstart event showcasing freeskiing's best that really marks the start of ski season.
Elite athletes from around the globe turn out to the Colorado resort for the early season slope and pipe comps, but this year's lineup doesn’t include Maddie Bowman and Nick Goepper, members of freeskiing royalty who dominate the sport in halfpipe and slopestyle, respectively. With Bowman and Goepper out of the running, who will steal the spotlight? Here's a breakdown of the skiers we'll be watching.
Women's Superpipe (Find the live stream online on Dec. 11, 9:15 a.m. MT): Keep an eye on East Coaster Annalisa Drew, the first female ever to throw a 1260 in competition. She put down an impressive show at last year's pipe semis before taking second in the finals to Bowman, the event's inaugural Olympic champ who has landed on the superpipe podium in the previous three Dew Tours. But this might also be the season Japanese skier Ayana Onozuka comes out on top. She’s a Sochi medalist who pulled in second at the 2015 X-Games superpipe but has been biding her time in recent years among the Dew Tour's top ten female halfpipe skiers.
Women's Slopestyle (Dec. 12, 9 a.m. MT): The women's slopestyle is wide open this year. After Kaya Turski's winning streak ended in 2012, there hasn't been a single dominating skier in this event—and, after taking over a year’s rest to deal with other injuries, Turski broke her arm this Monday during a training session and does not plan to compete. Breck freestyle team member Keri Herman hopes to defend last year's win with the home snow advantage, but also expect strong performances from Canadian slopestyle Olympic medalists Kim Lamarre and Dara Howell. Sixteen-year-old Whitefish, Montana, phenom Maggie Voisin will sit this Dew Tour out after tearing her ACL last year. Taking her place as an up-and-comer is 13-year-old Estonian Kelly Sildaru, who was named IF3 Europe's best upcoming freeskier at age 9 and once stomped a switch 900 in a competition with no previous practice.
Men's Superpipe (Dec 12, 4 p.m. MT): This event will likely be a toss up between three strong American pipe vets: Davis Wise, Torin Yater-Wallace, and Gus Kenworthy. Wise, a father who thundered into the spotlight back in 2011 and brought home halfpipe gold in Sochi, is looking to reverse last year's results and knock superpipe heavyweight Yater-Wallace off the top of the podium. And anticipate a good showing this weekend from Kenworthy, the Olympic silver medalist and American sweetheart with a number one AFP world ranking. Despite this strong competition, don't count out Frenchman Kevin Rolland, the decorated pipe skier who rounded out Sochi's halfpipe podium.
Men's Slopestyle (Dec. 13, 11 a.m. MT): With a no-show from X-Games slopestyle three-peat champ Nick Goepper, Norway freestyle young gun Øystein Bråten has his eye on the win. The rail wiz will still need to contend with Kenworthy, the versatile double-threat who might like to repeat last year's victory. Bråten is also up against a stupidly deep field of competitors including Jesper Tjader, big air masters Bobby Brown and Vincent Gagnier, and reigning Olympic slopestyle king Joss Christensen. Also watch out for breakout Swiss skier Andri Ragletti, who might take this event as his opportunity to prove himself on the American scene.
The tour kicks off tomorrow, Dec. 10, with the men's slopestyle semifinals. All events will be streamed online, but tune in to NBC on Dec 13. for a live broadcast of Men's Freeski Slopestyle. Events also include the popular streetstyle competition held downtown on Dec 11., as well as a Saturday night concert at the Riverwalk Center featuring EDM producer and DJ Audien.