The BMX vert competition was hailed as one of the most exciting ever thanks to a format change that had competitors sweating but smiling. Jamie Bestwick preserved his perfect season (for the second year in a row) by winning the Salt Lake event with tricks that brought the packed house to its feet.
"I had to breath down his neck," Bestwick, 39, said of the second-place finisher, Chad Kagy. "That was a different thing for me. That's a good thing. That, for me, was a perfect contest."
And then there was Shaun White.
He came into the Dew Tour as the victor at the last competition in Portland. But he does not lead the standings, and in fact, wasn't even in the top five because he missed the first competition on the tour. Winning not only puts him in the lead pack, but it also makes it possible for him to win the overall prize — the Dew Cup — next month in Las Vegas.
White, who owns two Olympic gold medals in snowboarding, said he loves coming to Salt Lake City because of its outdoor opportunities. He actually owns a home in Park City and rides for Park City Mountain Resort.
"That should tell you what I think of Utah," he said. "It's one of the few places where you can land at the airport and be at the mountain a half an hour later. … I love coming to Utah."
Utah was the only stop on the tour that offered fans a motocross competition. Prybylo said that was a nod to the thousands of FMX fans in Utah who can't get enough of the high-flying sport.
In addition to the Dew Tour competitions, fans got a look at some up-and-coming stars as the Gatorade Free Flow Tour finals mingled in the same venues, on the same weekend, which was a new twist this year.
Sandy's Tyson Bowerbank finished third in the skateboard park finals on Sept. 18.
In his third year on the GFFT, the 15-year-old said he enjoyed the chance to compete in front of his family and friends.
"Its fun to do the competitions," he said, noting that they, too, skated with a new format that included a final jam session. "I thought the jam session was fun."
He began skating, like most of the athletes, just for fun with friends. But when he was 8, he began competing.
"My cousin invited me to a contest," said Bowerbank.
He travels so much that his parents decided to enroll him in Utah Online High School, which allows him the freedom to pursue his passion while maintaining his good grades.
"Some kids never have a passion," said his mom, Kim Bowerbank. "It's a total love and passion."
Tyson has a number of sponsors who make it possible for him to travel to contests around the country.
"Honestly, there are so many talented skaters," said Kim. "We just meet so many people across the country."
She said it was obvious from the start that her son wanted to pursue skateboarding as more than a hobby.
"Probably when he started eating, sleeping and breathing skateboarding," she laughed.
Helping to develop talent like Bowerbank's is one of the things the Gatorade Free Flow Tour does most effectively. Without it, skaters wouldn't have a direct route to earn a spot in the Dew Tour's main event next month. The winners of each event are invited to compete in the Dew Tour finals against the likes of White, Bestwick and Sheckler.
And it isn't just that they get to participate.
Chaz Ortiz, who won the skate park finals three years ago at age 13 and then again on Saturday, is on the Dew Tour thanks to the Gatorade Free Flow Tour. As he still skates with those who he once admired, Ortiz understands how the new skaters feel first hand.
The laid-back environment of the events, however, allows new skaters to assimilate in with the veterans pretty easily.
"I don't get intimidated," Ortiz said when asked about competing against such well-known athletes. "I skate with them all the time. I'm just going to skate how I normally do. I just want to have a good time."
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