When Mark McMorris and Shaun White drop in, something changes
Part of the Five Stops To Sochi series presented by Mammoth
Mark McMorris versus Shaun White. McMorris will attempt to take down White en route to Sochi Olympic gold. Is Mark McMorris the next Shaun White? This is gist of some of the headlines that have been running lately, building hype about the upcoming Olympic slopestyle event in Sochi. It may sound like a made for TV rivalry but at the start tent at the top of the 2013 Dew Tour slopestyle qualifiers at Breckenridge, Friday Shaun and then Mark drew a hush over the crowd of industry veterans and international pro riders simply by lining up at the start gate. While there were plenty of other riders in attendance who were killing it on their runs, these two hands-down commanded the most attention from their peers.
Shaun dropped before McMorris and this being his first slopestyle competition run of the season, everyone seemed curious to find out if he had stepped his game up after the poor showing at the Winter X Games slopestyle in Aspen last January. When he posted a first place score, the hush again fell over the crowd as Mark got ready to drop in—would he be able to better Shaun's score? Mark was a little sketchy on the rails but overall his run was looking good with a Cab double cork and double Wildcat, until he washed out on what for him, is usually a stock backside double cork 1080. Mark seemed just as stunned as everyone else. In fairness the rumor was that he's just getting over the stomach flu. But the fact that Shaun could come out ahead of a field of dedicated slopestyle riders such as Mark, Torstein Horgmo, Eric Willett, and Seb Toots says a lot about how far he's come.
Shaun’s first place qualifying run
On round two Mark came back, stomping his first attempted run clean, qualifying eleventh.
“My legs were shaking, but I knew that I had landed that run so many times and that it was uncharacteristic for me to fall like that. But, I got it done and that’s all that matters. Sunday is a new day,” Mark told the Dew Tour. “There’s a lot of tension around slopestyle this year, it’s pretty wild stuff. I think it is going to be a fun year, I just need to not scare myself like that again.”
A lot can change during the slopestyle finals on Sunday, but for Mark winning or loosing at the Dew Tour amounts to little more than bragging rights. He's already qualified for the Canadian Olympic team and is going to Sochi. For Shaun it's a bit of a different story. He still hasn't got a top 30 finish in a World Cup event, making him currently ineligible for the US Team slopestyle team (he’s qualified for pipe). Since the Dew Tour isn't a World Cup that means even if Shaun wins on Sunday he still won't be eligible for the slope team—he has to get a top 30 finish at the Copper Grand Prix next week.
Anyway, with the whole Mark versus Shaun thing there may not be a rivalry in the sense that they hate each other but all eyes are on these two for the moment.
Here’s the full list of who qualified for slope finals
1. Shaun White
3. Seb Toots
4. Peetu Piiroinen
5. Chas Guldemond
6. Sage Kotsenburg
7. Brandon Davis
8. Stale Sandbech
9. Nikolas Baden
10. Eric Beauchemin
11. Mark McMorris
12. Sven Thorgen
13. Spencer Link
14. Alek Oestreng
15. Ulrik Badertscher
16. Max Parrot
17. Gjermnd Braaten