Jake Pates had perhaps the run of his life on Friday to win the Dew Tour men’s halfpipe snowboarding final and stake his claim as a potential 2018 U.S. Olympic Team member.
The 19-year-old reached his biggest accomplishment since winning gold medals in both halfpipe and slopestyle at the Winter Youth Olympic Games Lillehammer 2016.
Going into the event in Breckenridge, Colorado, all eyes were on fellow American Ben Ferguson. The 22-year-old needed only to be the top American on the podium in order to qualify for the team that will head to PyeongChang for the 2018 Winter Games.
With two-time Olympic champion Shaun White missing the final, chances looked good that Ferguson would make that happen.
It was the case, in fact, for most of the competition. Australia’s Scotty James was the one to beat with a top score of 96.00. Ferguson scored an 89.00 on his second run to take third place going into the third and final runs of the day. Only the top score of the three runs counts.
Then in the second-to-last run, Pates, who was second in qualifying, threw down a run that included a tail grab backside 1260 double at the end to score a whopping 97.33 and bump James from the lead and Ferguson temporarily into fourth, behind Japan’s Ayumu Hirano and his top score of 91.00.
“I felt like I was dreaming (when I saw the score), I don’t know, that was crazy,” Pates said in an interview at the conclusion of the competition. “I don’t even really know what to say right now. This is insane.”
Ferguson had one last shot, though, and delivered his best run of the day to score a 92.00 and work his way back to the podium, as he finished third.
The final two Olympic qualifiers for men’s halfpipe snowboarding will be the U.S. Grand Prixes in Snowmass, Colorado, and Mammoth, California, both after the new year.