- Devon O'Neil, Senior Writer, International Sports
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When you watch two full days of Winter Dew Tour finals in the park and pipe, sometimes the jumps start to blend together, the scoreboard starts to get blurry and your boots start to smell like dead rats.
But certain things always stand out at freeskiing and snowboarding's richest series. The Nike 6.0 Open at Breckenridge this week was full of talent, yes; but also, unfortunately for the competitors, deep powder snow. We never got to see the riders' best in any of the eight finals, because they couldn't find enough miles per hour in the soft, sinking ground.
They tried, that's for sure. We saw some brilliant runs and moments. What follows is a smattering of thoughts, impressions and quotes from the weekend on snow.
I had never seen halfpipe skier Torin Yater-Wallace, 15, or slopestyle snowboarder Mark McMorris, 17, ride in person. You talk about two kids with the talent to make the Olympics if their sports are added for 2014 -- Yater-Wallace throws 9s both ways and lands 12s on autopilot; McMorris stuck a double backside rodeo like it was a 540.
In case you were wondering whether it's better to be a huge or small man in halfpipe riding, consider Saturday's winners: 5-foot-5, 150-pound Louie Vito and 5-foot-6, 145-pound Simon Dumont.
Gotta Love the Emotion Award: Simon Dumont, who went seriously nuts in full public view after a binding malfunction ruined his first run Saturday. After his winning run, Dumont said, "Losing is more emotional for me than winning. Winning, it's like, 'Cool, you did what you came to do.'" Runner-up: JF Houle, who roundhoused his helmet into three "Slow" signs on his way to the base after a doomed slopestyle run.
Yes, Kevin Rolland really did land a double McTwist then a double 1260 in the pipe and barely caught the bottom step of the podium.
Justin Dorey, who took second in the freeski pipe, said, "I think we're going to get to a point where it's going to get, not necessarily too technical, but too flippy and spinny. Like if you look at somebody like Duncan Adams, I think he's the future. His style mixed with some really technical doubles, as well as really, really big switch-straight airs and basic stuff. It's really important that we don't forget about the smooth, slow tricks. I love watching Duncan ski. His switch air to back McTwist, to do that 15 feet in the air is way harder than a double 12."
Women's snowboard slopestyle champ Jamie Anderson, 20, who just bought a three-bedroom condo in South Lake Tahoe: "It's pretty big and it's pretty gangster, I'm not going to lie."
Louie Vito, in reference to his 15-point win: "I never really look at the scores too much."
But, easily the most memorable part of this weekend was watching Kevin Pearce, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in December 2009, be himself among fans and peers for hours, in his element once again. Pearce hadn't planned to attend a competition until the X Games, but he decided to come to Breckenridge and stayed at the Nike 6.0 house. Everyone appreciated the power his presence carried, including Kelly Clark, who competed with a "Pearce would have won" sticker on her board.
I spoke with Pearce for exactly one minute, 35 seconds Sunday afternoon: "I walk out of the house every day and I'm like, 'Oh damn, I forgot my snowboard!' Then I'm like, 'Oh wait, I'm not allowed to bring that.' But I just feel so blessed to be back here cruising with everyone and be back with all my friends; that's all I ever really cared about. I don't feel 100 percent by any means. I get tired really easily, my vision's really bad and my balance is really bad, so I have a bunch of stuff to work on. But my head's feeling good."
1dKevin Van Valkenburg