NEWRY — Gus Kenworthy gained some international fame during the recent Sochi Winter Olympics when he and a friend rounded up some of the stray dogs that were in danger of being killed to bring them home. Recently he was reunited with two on the Today Show after his friend Robin Macdonald handled the adoption process.
That act of kindness has made Kenworthy a fan favorite among the slopestyle skiing crowd. The fact that he is a pretty good skier just adds to his popularity.
Kenworthy, who won the silver medal in slopestyle skiing in the Olympics, won his second Dumont Cup on Saturday at Sunday River. Kenworthy scored 94.7 points to edge Nick Goepper, last year’s Dumont Cup winner and the bronze medalist in the Winter Olympics.
After the awards ceremony, the two were mobbed by fans hoping to get a photo with or an autograph from two of the brightest stars in the sport. They signed anything and everything, from helmets to backpacks to jackets to iPhone covers.
“At this point, Gus and I have won it twice,’’ said Goepper. “Pretty exciting history here at the Dumont Cup.’’
Goepper won in 2011 – “My first big podium,’’ he said. “I won it when I was 17, which was mind-blowing.” – and 2013 while Kenworthy previously won it in 2012. Each time the other finished second.
Kenworthy won this year’s open slopestyle jam, which combines amateurs with professionals, with a technically sound run from top, on the rails, to bottom, the big jumps.
“I just saw that there were some really technical rail options,’’ said Kenworthy. “The jumps are big but I just think everyone’s jump runs are pretty similar and it’s hard to separate yourself. So I try to do that on rails, take the most technical line and be awarded heavily.’’
Bobby Brown was third with 92 points. Two amateurs, Evan McEachran and Alex Bellemare, finished fourth and fifth.
Kenworthy took home $12,000 for first while Goepper received $8,000 and Brown $5,000.
The fact that McEachran, from Oakville, Ontario, and Bellemare, from St. Boniface, Quebec, finished so highly, and that nine amateurs reached the finals greatly pleased Simon Dumont, the 27-year-old Bethel native and freeskiing legend who started this event six years ago.
It was a great day for the amateurs, as Noah Morrison, of Vernon, British Columbia, was second to Brown after the semifinals.
“That is exactly why I do this event, so I can help to develop and discover new talent,” said Dumont, who handled the announcing this year as he recovers from surgery to his left knee. “And each year the talent pool keeps deepening. And especially with the inclusion in the Olympics, I think we’re going to see more kids, more of an international field. I hope to create this as a staple here.”
Morrison didn’t fare as well in the finals, falling each time on one of the final jumps. But, he said, “I’m stoked to be in such a big field. All the top ones are here. To be competing with them, especially the Olympic podium, I’m just stoked.”
Joss Christiansen, the gold medalist in the Olympics, also competed. But a day after getting 30 rabies shots for a dog bite he got in Bosnia after the Olympics – “Gus didn’t bring the dangerous ones back,” he joked – he was unable to complete any of his three runs. But he wanted to be here.
“It was fun,” he said. “I fell a bunch today but it’s all good. It happens.”
Many of the amateurs had strong parts of their runs but were unable to complete them. A stumble here on a jump, a bobble on the rails, made a huge difference.
Goepper said he messed up on the first rail in his final run – “A mental mistake,” he called it. “I wasn’t thinking about getting on the rail and I clipped my edge on the beginning.” – and that was probably the difference between first and second.
Brown, making his first appearance in the Dumont Cup, was pleased with every aspect of his day.
“I think Simon runs a great event that allows people to get into a contest that they normally wouldn’t,” he said of the amateurs. “The fact that it’s open gives a chance to a lot of kids to show everyone what they’ve got. This is a great platform to get launched on.”
With the sun shining, the temperature “dancing with 50,” according to pro Torin Yates-Wallce, and the slushy conditions, it made for a perfect spring event.
“Tons of fun,” said Goepper. “I’m here with all my buddies and the highlight of the day was just to get on the podium.”
And for Kenworthy it was a nice victory in a long, competitive season.
“I always know that Nick’s going to put down a good run,” said Kenworthy. “He’s someone I always want to beat. So it feels good.”
And coming to Maine was just what he needed.
“It’s been a big season so it’s nice to unwind on the East Coast,” said Kenworthy. “Beautiful weather, awesome card games. It was a good one to kind of slow the season down.”
Mike Lowe can be reached at 791-6422 or at: