Teens top men’s field in snowboard slopestyle
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado
BRECKENRIDGE – With the snow turning icy slick and large shadows cast over the slopestyle course at Breck late Sunday afternoon, the conditions in the Winter Dew Tour men’s snowboard slope finals surely favored the more experienced rider – the rider that had been in these pressure-packed, gut-wrenching situations before.
As many top riders failed to land their ideal runs with the poor visibility, it was a pair of 16-year-old buddies that topped a field of the world’s top slope boarders.
Tyler Flanagan connected on a three-hit combination of a cab 900, backside 1080 and a frontside 1080 to wow the judges with a score of 93 and take home the Dew Tour trophy.
“I’m so stoked,” Flanagan said after the win. “I thought that a lot of people were going to knock me off. I didn’t think that a 93 was going to hold up the whole time, but it did.”
The other teen, Sage Kotsenburg of Park City, also stomped a major run in the contest, which included a backside, double cork 1080. Kotsenburg finished second with 90 points.
“I can’t even believe it, I’m so stoked,” Kotsenburg said. “It’s like a dream come true. I was hoping to make top-10, maybe top-five. Getting podium was like a bonus, just icing on the cake.”
Topping the podium on the same day was an even bigger bonus for the young athletes.
“Sage is one of my best friends, so it’s awesome that we both did so well,” Flanagan said.
Rounding out the podium was local rider Eric Willett. Born and raised in Summit County, the 21-year-old laid down a run that on other days might have landed him in the top spot. After a switch, backside 900 and a front 1080 to start his run, Willett stomped a double backside rodeo on his way to a score of 87.5.
“It was such a crazy day,” Willett said. “In practice, I wasn’t landing much. I landed my run a few times. When it came down to finals, I knew I had to lay it down, and I got the run I needed to.”
Besides the young winner, the talk of the day centered around the tough conditions. Most of the field’s top riders were unable to land any of their runs, let a lone one that was podium-worthy.
Scotty Lago fell early in both of his runs and finished in 10th.
The event’s two top qualifiers – Mikkel Bang and Torstein Horgmo – weren’t able to challenge the leaders. Bang fell on both runs and ended up ninth, while Horgmo wound up in fourth at 86.0.
Somehow, the tricky lighting didn’t affect Flanagan or Kotsenburg.
“It was really fast and really flat light, Kotsenburg said. “I couldn’t see any of the jumps really. You just had to trust your instincts: You feel where you are in the air and just set it down and land.”
Well, his instincts landed him in a good spot heading into the rest of the season. Same goes for Flanagan.
“This is a great way to start the season, it’s awesome,” he said. “Just have to try to keep it going.”
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