Taylor Seaton squeaks into Dew Tour finals
BRECKENRIDGE — Avon’s Taylor Seaton is relieved to be one of eight American halfpipe skiers to make finals at the Dew Tour this week.
The 27-year-old had a nasty crash in training on Tuesday, Dec. 12, and thought there was no chance he would be able to ski in Wednesday, Dec. 13’s qualifiers.
“I was in so much pain,” he said. “I think it was the worst charley horse I’ve ever had in my life.”
The “butt bruise,” as Seaton called it, was feeling better by Wednesday so he decided to see if he could ski.
“I could ski, but I just knew I could not fall,” he said.
Opting for an easier run, Seaton put a score of 81.33 on the board, enough to finish 12th on the day and be the final person admitted to finals.
“As long as you make finals, it doesn’t really matter what your place is,” Seaton said.
It’s a lesson Seaton knows well, as the best result of his career — a second-place finish at the final World Cup event of last season — came after being the last person admitted to finals.
“Hopefully I’ll be feeling better by Friday and I’ll be able to put down another top-level run,” Seaton said.
HITTING THE DECK
The crash Seaton suffered Tuesday was a result of something halfpipe riders call “hitting the deck,” which means they came in contact with the top of the halfpipe rather than landing inside of it. The farther away from the half pipe’s 22-foot walls a rider is able to land, the less risk there is of hitting the deck. But landing too far away from that wall can be just as devastating, something called hitting the “flat bottom.” A perfect landing next to the deck allows a rider to best absorb the impact, making things easier on the body. Halfpipe riders who have been able to continue the sport into an older age are often credited with “perfect transitions,” or landings where a rider comes close to hitting the deck, but instead lands high on the wall and absorbs the fall from the sky with minimal impact to the body.
“I’m a big believer in hitting transitions correctly,” Seaton said. “There’s always more risk in hitting the deck that way but it will also keep me skiing pipe longer by having less impact on the body over the years, so the risk is worth it.”
Also, Seaton added, “That’s the way the pipe was meant to be ridden.”
Other Americans to make the final included David Wise, Alex Ferreira, Torin Yater-Wallace, Birk Irving, Gus Kenworthy, Aaron Blunck and Kyle Smaine. Friday, Dec. 15’s finals will double as an Olympic qualifier, where the Americans will be attempting to make the podium in an effort to be among the four U.S. skiers who will get to join Team USA in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Those halfpipe skiers will need two podium finishes to meet the minimum objective requirement for the team. Seaton already has one from a podium finish he earned at the first Olympic qualifier, the Mammoth, California, Grand Prix in February. Wise, Wallace and Kenworthy also have one podium finish to their credit.
“It’s gonna be tough competition on Friday, that’s for sure,” Seaton said.