Transmissions from the US Open: The Finals and the Minturn Mile

The Burton US Open at Vail, CO: The Finals

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The week was a nice warm up at the Burton US Open—the weekend is when things get wild.

It started with waking into the Burton store Thursday night and immediately bumping into a girl chugging beer out of a shoe while Jake Burton and Shaun White playing host to a warmed-up VIP crowd. With snow falling outside, I didn’t stay long. An imminent powder day trumps a night on the town 99 percent of the time.

Awaking to dry Rocky Mountain snow and what many were calling the best powder day of the year at Vail, my early night proved to be the right decision. There was time for four powder laps before the men started dropping into slopestyle finals, and those who weren’t on the mountain for first chair, well, they wished they were. Boarding the lift with Sage Kotsenburg, he broke the day down with a bit of Zen wisdom: “You just gotta try your trick. And you either make it, or you don’t.”

Simply put, and perfectly spoken. The falling snow, however, did slow things down a bit—speed was an issue for the first jump, and more than a few competitors caught the knuckle. That didn’t stop Mark McMorris from chucking a triple cork, or Torstein Horgmo from making the hardest tricks in the book look easy. With McMorris in first and Horgmo in second, Chas Guldemond rounded out the top three. The ladies competition was wisely canceled, which left first place qualifier Spencer O’Brien $45,000 richer and everyone else with some free time to slash powder.

And slash powder we did. Dave Downing and Jake Burton himself led a crew of 13 lucky souls, myself included, down the Minturn Mile—a gate-accessed lap that takes you from 11,000 feet off the backside of the mountain to the old mining town of Minturn and pitchers of margaritas. Thigh-deep blower all but hid the icy crust underneath, and Jake slashed like he’s been riding for 35 years. To sum up the conditions, Jake stopped mid-run and said, “I’ve done this 40 or 50 times and this is as good as it gets.”

Thoroughly spent, it was time to prepare for Saturday and the marquis event of the US Open: the halfpipe finals. As predicted, the weather shifted to bluebird and 40-ish degrees, the sun baking a healthy crowd over the perfectly-formed stunt ditch. Shaun White showed that even though he was the second-oldest rider in the competition, he is still a step ahead of the up-and-coming teenage contingent. His fifth US Open halfpipe crown tied him with Danny Kass for the most ever. It’s hard to say if his dominance will last for long, however—14-year-old Ayumu Hirano boosted 20 feet out with easy style, landing second place, taking the World Snowboard Tour pipe championship, and impressing all in the process. The youth are hungry—it will be interesting to see where young Hirano’s riding is at by this time next year.

Rounding out the afternoon, the ladies threw down impressive lines, but Kelly Clark, like White, maintained her dominance. Hannah Teter came through in second place. It’s worth mentioning that Spain’s Querelt Castellet took the hardest fall of the day, decking out on a 10-foot-plus 720, and managed to ride away. A tough girl, indeed.

The 31st Burton US Open is in the books—there’s nothing left to do but head to town for a Santigold show and the after-party at the ice arena. Word is there’s still a bit of powder to be found in the back bowls—and I have enough time to get back there before my noon departure tomorrow. A huge thanks to Burton Snowboards for a truly amazing snowboard event—the soul of snowboarding is alive in the contest world, and this week, it was on display in Vail, CO. We’ll see you next year.

Men’s Slopestyle Final Results:

1. Mark McMorris CAN, BURTON, 83.05

2. Torstein Horgmo NOR, DC SHOE CO, 82.53

3. Chas Guldemond USA, ROCKSTAR, 81.63

Women’s Slopestyle Final Results:

1. Spencer O’Brien CAN, NIKE, 75.33

2. Jamie Anderson USA, BILLABONG, 74.88

3. Brooke Voigt CAN, 32 SNOWBOARD BOOTS, 70.08

Men’s Halfpipe Final Results:

1. Shaun White USA, BURTON, 95.58 – $45,000

2. Ayumu Hirano JPN, BURTON, 87.40 – $20,000

3. Louie Vito USA, RED BULL, 79.58 – $10,000

Women’s Halfpipe Final Results:

1. Kelly Clark USA, BURTON, 84.45 – $45,000

2. Hannah Teter USA, BURTON, 82.13 – $20,000

3. Arielle Gold USA, BURTON, 80.88 – $10,000


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