Of the Winter Dew Tour's three events last year, female skiers competed in one stop and one discipline: halfpipe at Snowbasin, Utah. This winter, thanks to some nudging from female athletes like Jen Hudak and Sarah Burke, the women will compete in two of the three stops and both disciplines: slopestyle and pipe at Breckenridge and Snowbasin.
"We're continuing to expand the women's presence on the freeski side of the tour," says Dew Tour general manager Chris Prybylo. "Freeskiing is a sport that's really growing and picking up momentum and the women are continuing to become a bigger part of that. More and more women are starting to compete so it makes sense for us to grow as well."
Prybylo says he sat down with five-time X Games medalist Jen Hudak, who placed second in halfpipe at the 2010 Dew Tour at Snowbasin, to develop a women's program that worked for the athletes and the event organizers. "The point of sitting down with Jen was to get direct feedback as to what the athletes are looking for," Prybylo says.
Hudak says the meeting helped bridge a communication gap. "Most of the girls felt put off by Dew Tour because we were left to assume that they didn't think we were worthy," Hudak told ESPN. "But meeting with Chris put all of those fears to rest. He expressed that he wants to work with us and wants to help the sport grow, and that has been the case all along. We are all very excited, and it's great to know that we are working toward the same goal."
The Killington, Vermont, stop of the Dew Tour is the only one that will not feature women freeskiers. At Breckenridge and Snowbasin, there will be 25 spots for women in both pipe and slopestyle. And unlike previous years, where the competitions were invite-only, these will be open events.
"Every comp for the last few years has been invite only, so the same 10 women keep getting invited to events," Hudak says. "There was no way for new girls to break through. Now we have a stage for new girls to come and prove themselves, which will push us all to be better."