BRECKENRIDGE – The most surprised guy on the halfpipe Friday: Jake Pates.
He also happened to be the winner of the Dew Tour and might have to clear his schedule for Feb. 14, the day of the men’s halfpipe final at the Pyeongchang Games.
The 19-year-old out of Eagle came from nowhere to win the second of four U.S. qualifying events and put himself in position to be on the team heading to the Olympics in two months.
“I never thought in a million years I’d have won this event today,” Pates said. “All I wanted was to land that run. I’d been dreaming about that all week.”
In the women’s event, Chloe Kim won her second straight qualifier to sew up a spot on the Olympic team.
“I’m proud of the kid, getting in, it’s amazing. She’s the most talented snowboarder I’ve seen in a long time,” said three-time Olympic medalist Kelly Clark, who finished second.
Clark bashed her face on the top of the halfpipe on her second run, but still came back for a final run to add a second-place finish to her third-place finish last week.
“If I’m physically able, I’m going to be out there,” said Clark, who is in good position to make her fifth Olympic team.
Pates’ run, featuring a version of the Double McTwist 1260 that Shaun White brought to the sport eight years ago, earned him a score of 97.33 and a victory over Australia’s Scotty James and America’s Ben Ferguson. Pates said it was only the fourth time he’d landed the trick on snow, and the first time in competition.
He made no attempt to mask his shock. Among those in the field he dusted included Olympic gold and silver medalists Iouri Podladtchikov and Ayumu Hirano, two-time Winter X Games champion Danny Davis and James, who finished second and is considered a prime contender at the Olympics.
White wiped out during his two qualifying runs Thursday and did not make the final, but is still in good shape to make the Olympic team.
The next qualifying event is Jan. 10 in Snowmass.
Until then, Pates will use the time to let this sink in.
“It was kind of insane. Still pretty shocked. It was a lot of fun,” he said.
Winners of the ski halfpipe events were Alex Ferreira of the U.S. and Canada’s Cassie Sharpe.