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Mason Aguirre wins Winter Dew Tour at Truckee; Shaun White takes overall Dew Cup

Mason Aguirre overcomes rain and sleet to win the snowboard superpipe at Truckee, Calif. White takes overall title based on series points.

February 23, 2009|Pete Thomas

TRUCKEE, CALIF. — After three consecutive days featuring bluebird skies and balmy temperatures, rain descended on the Lake Tahoe area, making a mess of the marquee event in the Winter Dew Tour.

The U-shaped superpipe, gleaming but dry and immaculate a night earlier for the ski superpipe final, was pelted by rain and sleet throughout Sunday afternoon's snowboard superpipe contest at Northstar-at-Tahoe resort.

Yet, spectators showed up by the hundreds and watched red-faced and blue-lipped as the world's premier riders rose above the slop and lesser rivals to claim top awards for the season-ending Toyota Championship and the Dew Cup superpipe series.

None overcame the elements quite like Mason Aguirre, who could have prevailed with either of his two scores: an 89.25 followed by a 94.50, which brought muffled roars from a largely muffled crowd.

The Mammoth Lakes snowboarder's winning routine included a frontside 1080 melon grab, a Cab 1080 nose grab, a frontside 900 melon grab, a backside flat-spin 540, and an air-to-fakie to a switch alley-oop backside rodeo 720.

Translation: He spun this way and that, at times nearly 20 feet above the superpipe walls, while riding in a regular or switched stance.

It was Aguirre's first victory since a Burton Australian Open triumph in September, when it was winter Down Under.

Of the unusually wet storm that swept into the Sierra Nevada range overnight, Aguirre said he was mystified.

"Everyone was forecasting rain all week. I'm like, 'Man, it's not gonna rain. It's Tahoe. Storm's done. It clears. It stays sunny. That's how California do,' " the snowboarder recalled. "But apparently that's not how it did, and I woke up this morning to pouring rain and stuff like that."

On attempting such difficult routines in weather that contributed to four nasty spills among the 12 finalists, Aguirre had an explanation.

"You can't play it safe anymore. Maybe some of the guys in finals are going to play it safe and do what they know, but one or two guys are going to do tricks that they don't normally land or don't normally execute properly. So I just went in with the mind-set that I'm going to throw everything I've got."

Aguirre, 21, pocketed $15,000 for the victory. Finishing second was Steve Fisher (87.00 points).

Ending up third, but the biggest winner, was Carlsbad's Shaun White (81.75), who won the Dew Cup, worth $25,000, based on series points.

White, 22, on Friday won the Dew Cup in the snowboard slopestyle discipline and became the only athlete to win Cups in winter and summer Dew tours (his skateboarding series triumph was during the 2007 summer tour).

White said his goals during the inaugural three-series Winter Dew Tour were merely to claim Cups in both of his disciplines.

He was conservative on his first run in both events and might have pulled past Fisher and Aguirre in the superpipe final with a clearly more impressive second run but fell while attempting his last trick.

"It's great for me if I can hold back some stuff and still get on the podium," said White, who won the Olympic gold medal at the 2006 Turin Games. "I wanted this Cup pretty bad, so I knew I needed to just do well today."

Not even Aguirre scored as well as Australia's Torah Bright, who posted a 95.50 on her second run to handily beat Kelly Clark (90.00) and reigning Olympic champion Hannah Teter (83.50) and win the women's superpipe final.

Clark, however, won the Dew Cup and said that not even rain and sleet could put a damper on that achievement.

"The conditions definitely weren't ideal today, but I kind of come out and do the same thing regardless of what the conditions are," said Clark, a two-time Olympian and gold medalist at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. "So it worked out today, but it wasn't easy in there."

--

pete.thomas@latimes.com

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