After an unprecedented 16 consecutive halfpipe victories, Kelly Clark’s win-streak was derailed Saturday at the Burton US Open in Stratton, VT.
The Vermont-native and crowd favorite boosted a run filled with lofty, technical tricks, but this time her efforts were just not enough.
Elena Hight, who has only placed in the top three on two occasions throughout this season, boosted a run that included a huge, tweaked backside air, back to back 900′s and a massive ally-oop backside rodeo. The judges awarded her a 86.50 which was only 3/10th of a point higher than Clark’s.
Hight was overwhelmed with her win and said “I’m really happy with the whole weekend – the pipe and weather were amazing. I haven’t been at the Open for a couple of years, and it’s great to come back and embrace the 30th anniversary of the event.”
Following the dramatic women’s event, sixteen of the world’s best male riders battled it out under blue skies and springlike temps. The warm weather created variable conditions in the pipe. The right wall was sun-baked and slushy, but the shadowed left-side was icy and firm, making it difficult for the riders to cleanly stomp all three of their runs.
After taking a three year hiatus from competing at the US Open, Shaun White made a triumphant return to the pipe. He was the first rider to drop and laid down a run that included a method, frontside double cork 1080 stalefish, Cab double cork 1080 melon, frontside inverted 540 stalefish, backside double McTwist 1260 and an alley oop backside rodeo. While this wasn’t the best run we’ve ever seen out of White, his efforts were awarded a 90.1– the highest score of the day.
White was pleased with the win, but knew he didn’t ride his best. He commented “I hoped to set it up in runs two and three, but I had trouble with the double back rodeo on that final hit.”
After falling on runs one and two, Louie Vito stomped four double corks in his third attempt. This was enough to secure second place. Vermont-native Benji Farrow rounded out the top three and was thrilled with his first major podium of the season.
The Burton US Open was the last major halfpipe contest in the United States. Many of the riders will now travel to Tignes, France for the European X Games to cap off the 2011-2012 season.