Kai Mahler wins Dew Tour big air, Kenworthy and Harlaut round out podium
Never before has the Winter Dew Tour hosted a big air event. Until tonight, that is. And the show went off in classic nighttime ski big air fashion, with athletes soaring beneath the lights, powering through biting, twenty-something degree temps, hyping up a large crowd of spectators, and—of course—stomping an array of technical stunts. A first for the Dew Tour—go ahead and mark an X in the checkbox next to “Success.”
Twelve athletes arrived on site early this afternoon for practice—the session lasted for a few hours, and with a handful of snowmobiles providing shuttle service, each of the riders logged loads of practice jumps prior to finals. By the time the 5:30 p.m. start time rolled around, a sizable crowd had gathered at the base of the jump, the athletes were ready to rock and it was game on.
The format: Two heats, comprised of six skiers each, dueled for 8-minute jam sessions. The top two riders from each heat advanced to the super-final, plus a fifth skier—the one who bagged the next highest score among athletes in both heats. In the super-final, skiers had three runs each—best score counts.
Checking in with the top three finishers, Winter Dew Tour big air at Breck (12/13/12). In order of appearance, Henrik Harlaut, Gus Kenworthy and Kai Mahler.
In the first heat, Jossi Wells, Alex Schlopy, Elias Ambühl, Nick Goepper, Russ Henshaw and Gus Kenworthy squared off. After three jumps each, it was Gus Kenworthy and Jossi Wells who emerged as the top two, Gus earning his highest score on a double cork 14 tail, and Jossi on a switch double cork 10. Just missing the cut was Russ Henshaw, whose third jump—a switch double cork 12—was spectacular. Tough luck, Russ.
The second heat consisted of Sammy Carlson, Vincent Gagnier, PK Hunder, Tom Wallisch, Kai Mahler and Henrik Harlaut. Harlaut and Mahler earned top marks—Henrik for his third hit, a nose butter double cork 10 Japan, and Mahler for his switch double misty 14 Japan. Tom Wallisch stomped a switch double cork 10—complete with a boned out tail grab, held for the duration of the trick—and landed in third place with an 88.25. His score was slightly higher than Henshaw’s in Heat 1 (86.0), making Wallisch the lucky #5 to make it through to the super-final.
And just like that—there were five. The pace of the event was quick. NBC Sports Network hosted a live broadcast of the event—and with a one-hour window to air the show there was no time for dilly-dallying. Surely the crowd appreciated this, as the temperature continued on a steady path of decline from the event’s start to finish.
As mentioned above, the five that remained had three jumps each to impress the judges—best score counting in the end. Henrik Harlaut continued his nose buttering ways, stomping three consecutive nose butter double cork 10s, his second—complete with a tweaked Japan—earning him his highest score of 94.75. Gus Kenworthy upped his game, stomping three back-to-back-to-back double cork 16s complete with true tail grabs. Gus went bigger from jump to jump, and managed to grab tail longer throughout the trick on each consecutive attempt—his third stunt thus garnered his highest score—an impressive 95.75. But it was Kai Mahler, who on his last jump of the evening—and second to last jump overall—pulled out the switch double misty 14 double Japan, stole the judges’ hearts, and earned himself a 97.00. Never before had Kai implemented this particular grab with the switch double misty 14—and his efforts were certainly rewarded.
With the super-final winding down, the lead shifted from Gus to Henrik, Henrik back to Gus, and ultimately Gus to Kai. It was an exciting finish to an exciting night, and big props go out to all of the athletes for throwing down, and making the first Dew big air a memorable one.
Be sure to stay tuned as we’ll continue to bring you the best coverage of Dew Tour. Keep tabs on our Instagram feed for behind-the-scenes snapshots. The Dew Tour fun continues tomorrow with the men’s and women’s superpipe finals. For a daily event schedule, plus a listing of TV broadcast times, follow this link.
As this was the first skiing final of the week’s Dew events, Fantasy Freeride players earned their first points of the 2012/13 competition season. For all things Fantasy related, check out fantasyfreeride.com. To see how this shakes up the AFP standings, visit afpworldtour.com.
DEW TOUR BIG AIR FINAL RESULTS
1. Kai Mahler — 97.00
2. Gus Kenworthy — 95.75
3. Henrik Harlaut — 94.75
4. Josiah Wells — 87.75
5. Tom Wallisch — 87.50
About the author:
Henrik Lampert loves hot dogs, backflips, the Boston Bruins and Norway. Twenty-seven years old and a Massachusetts native, he's the Editor of Freeskier Magazine and Freeskier.com—a proud staffer since 2010.