Snowboard history was made this past weekend on the south island of New Zealand at a tiny valley resort called Cardrona during the first major Snowboard competition of the year... the 2009 Burton New Zealand Open. For the first time in competition riders were attempting the double cork 1080 spins. And they were landing them.
Much of this progression lends itself to the fact that these top riders are all vying for a coveted spot on the Olympic Snowboard Halfpipe team. Only four team spots will be given to the males for the United States, and with over a dozen American riders all skillful and qualified to make the team, many consider the race to get on the U.S. Olympic Snowboarding Halfpipe team much more interesting and competitive than the actual Olympic Competition itself.
Check out Shaun White's winning run from New Zealand with back to back double corks.
And then check out Luke Mitrani's double cork that landed him in the 2nd place position on the podium.
The Swatch TTR 5Star Burton New Zealand Open came to a climactic close today with history making Halfpipe runs from one of the most heavy-hitting rider contingents the NZO has ever seen. US riders and former TTR World Champions Kelly Clark and Shaun White each bagged their first results and Halfpipe titles of the 09/10 season along with 850 TTR ranking points while fellow US pipe shred Mason Aguirre moved into the Tour Lead.
While many riders locked in two results in New Zealand by competing in both the Slopestyle and Halfpipe, White only claimed one TTR result, moving him into World No. 10. Luke Mitrani's second place moved him into World No. 15, while Kokubo's third place finish bumped him into the TTR Top 30. After struggling slightly in yesterday's Slopestyle with a fourteenth place finish, Mason Aguirre managed to bag enough points with a fourth in the pipe to move into Tour Lead ahead of now World No. 2 Sebastien Toutant (CAN). Charles Reid, also from Canada, holds on to TTR World No. 3.
To Read More About This and Shaun Whites Back-2-Back Double Corks Click Here
New Zealand's largest snowboarding event, the Burton New Zealand Open Snowboarding Championships, came to a close today after four intense days of competition. Part of the Burton Global Open Series and the Swatch Ticket To Ride World Snowboard Tour, the 7th Annual New Zealand Open showcased some the world's top snowboarders competing in halfpipe and slopestyle competitions for over NZ$50,000 in prize money.
Hundreds of competitors from all over the world flocked to Cardrona Alpine Resort to compete, and action got underway on Wednesday with men's and women's slopestyle pre-qualifications and qualifications. Men's and women's halfpipe qualifications went down on Thursday, followed by men's and women's slopestyle semifinal and finals on Friday with Jamie Anderson (USA) and Sebastien Toutant (CAN) riding away with the top spots worth $6,000 each.
Saturday saw a field of 40 men and 21 women compete for the halfpipe titles worth NZ$6,000. In the women's competition Kelly Clark and Jiayu Liu battled it out in semifinals with huge amplitude and clean spins, while Elizabeth Beerman just bumped Kiwi Kendall Brown from advancing on to final. Louie Vito placed first in the men's semifinal competition, followed closely by Luke Mitrani in second and Shaun White in third.
Halfpipe finals consisted of three runs each for men and women, with the women first to drop. The Asian contingent finished strong taking four of the top eight spots in the women's finals, with Zhifeng Sun from China taking third. Her winning run featured an impressive frontside 900. Jiayu Liu (CHN) rode away with second with a run that featured back-to-back 720s and back-to-back 540s. But it was Kelly Clark that pulled it out with a whopping score of 83.67. Her winning run started with a massive frontside air followed by a backside 540 indy, into a frontside 720 tailgrab, followed by a Cab 720, finishing with a frontside 540 indy. Clark had this to say of her win, "I felt really good today; I got to try new things. I like progressing, and when you ride against a solid group of competitors it pushes me to do more. I'm happy that I did well for my first contest of the summer, especially going in to an Olympic year."
History was made today during the men's halfpipe finals. The best and most progressive riding ever witnessed went down, the crowd and judges were blown away by the double cork and spin combinations they were seeing. Kazuhiro Kokubo finished in third with a run that featured a huge McTwist, a frontside 900 tailgrab, an alleyoop chuck nose grab, and a frontside 1080 indy. Luke Mitrani took second with a run that included a double inverted 900 melon, a frontside 720 indy, a Cab 720 mute and a frontside 900 tailgrab. But it was Shaun White who was able to come from behind in semifinals to win the $6,000 top spot. His winning run started with a frontside lien air, to backside 900 melon, followed by a frontside 1080 stalefish, into a Cab double cork 1080 stalefish, to frontside double cork 900. No one was more pleased with the win than White himself, as he had this to say of his victory, "I'm proud to win today. This was the heaviest event that I have ever been in. That's saying a lot, as I have been in a lot of these. "
With the Burton New Zealand Open finished, the next stop in the BGOS is the European Open, taking place January 9-16, 2010 in Laax, Switzerland. The European Open is the second stop on the 2009-2010 Burton Global Open Series. Jamie Anderson and Mason Aguirre are currently in the lead for the Burton Global Open Series Championship titles and a piece of the $200,000 prize purse.
With his third result of the 09/10 season, Mason Aguirre takes over the top position on the Swatch TTR World Snowboard Tour followed by Sebastien Toutant in second and Charles Reid in third. Jamie Anderson maintains her lead of the women's ranking. With only two results on her account so far, 08/09 Swatch TTR World Champion Kelly Clark moves into world no. 7 with her victory in New Zealand.
Another day of bluebird skies graced Cardrona Alpine Resort, which remained impervious to the clouds, sitting above the inversion layer once again for men's and women's slopestyle semifinal and final competitions today. Part of the Burton Global Open Series and the Swatch Ticket To Ride World Snowboard Tour, the seventh annual New Zealand Open showcased some of the world's best riders as they took to Cardrona's 800m long slopestyle course, which featured up and downrails, boxes, three kickers and a unique upstair feature to quarterpipe.
A field of 42 men and 16 women were battling it out for a piece of the $24,000 slopestyle prize purse and the top spots worth $6,000 each. An international field of riders from nine countries included New Zealand's own Shelly Gotlieb, James Hamilton, Stef Zeestraten, in addition to BGOS Champions Chas Guldemond and Jamie Anderson, Olympians Danny Kass and Mason Aguirre, and many more.
The women were first to drop and competition was stiff through semifinals, but it was Kiwi Shelly Gotlieb that came out on top, killing it on the course with a run that featured style and variety on the rails, a Cab 5 indy, a backflip and a backside 360 tailgrab. Gotlieb continued to ride strong through the finals, taking third, being outdone by Janna Weatherby (USA) in second and 2008 NZO slopestyle champion Jamie Anderson (USA) in first. Anderson impressed the judges with a run that started with a street style tailslide, 5-0 to fakie on the box into a switch backside 360 on the first kicker, followed by a Cab 540 melon into a front 360 melon, followed by a 5-0 on the uprail, to a tail stall on the quarterpipe, finishing with a 50/50 frontside boardslide on the kinked rail. "I had a blast," said Anderson of her win. "It was a beautiful day, we lucked out with the weather, and I was happy with my riding, I had so much fun today."
French Canadians Sebastien Toutant and Charles Reid clinched the top two spots in men's semifinals, Toutant taking the top spot by wowing the judges with his signature "Toutsie Roll," a backside doublecork 1080 melon. Reid couldn't stick his run in the finals, dropping him to the back of the pack, but Torstein Horgmo (NOR) threw down in his third and final run with back to back 1080s, giving him an edge and finishing second. Eric Willet (USA) stuck back-to-back 900s and had smooth style on the rails, giving him an edge and riding away with third. But in the end, Sebastien recreated his winning run from semis by starting off with a backside 270 on the first rail to 50/50 backside 360 on the second rail, into a backside rodeo 540 indy, into a Cab 900 stalefish, followed by a backside 1080 double cork melon, followed by a noseslide on the uprail to alleyoop backside 50/50 on the quarter, finishing with a frontside boardslide on the kinked rail. "I'm so stoked to win my first contest of the year," said Toutant. "It was a great course, very different. I had fun trying new things and am so happy to do well."
With 850 TTR ranking points, both winners of today's slopestyle finals took over the world number one spots on the Swatch TTR World Snowboard Tour. The Burton New Zealand Open is a perfect opportunity for riders to get a jumpstart heading into the Northern Hemisphere winter.
Photos by Phil Erickson courtesy of Burton
"Cracker of a day". That's New Zealand slang for "It's a really nice day here". I learned it this morning when the kiwi PR girl sent me an email letting me know the exciting news for the days Halfpipe Qualification rounds. The previous day's Slopestyle qualifications had been held under absolute crap weather, so you can understand how it was exciting news when the weather took an unexpected turn for the better.
So bluebird it was, and subsequently some decent riding got dolled out. Over 100 riders had to vie for a spot in the top 10 men and 5 women that would move onto Saturday's main event- Halfpipe Semi-Finals and Halfpipe Finals.
To keep it somewhat short (You can check the Burton Global Open Series website if you want to make it long) it was little Norweigen Stale "Style" Sandbech who showed everyone how it's done. His run consisted of back to back 7's, a couple 540's and a massive backside air tailgrab. (Stale's tailgrabs are insane. Hopefully someone, somewhere got a photo of that.)
Fun trivia fact for you. Stale Standbech is the little brother of Frode Sandbech, one of Transworld Snowboarding Magazine's talented Senior Photographers. Stale does everything BUT ride his brothers successful coattails. When you are lucky enough to see the kid ride in person you'll understand how. Keep an eye out for that one.
In an interesting turn of international affairs, only one American squeaked thru qualifications today. Coming in 10th was Steamboat Springs, CO native Taylor Gold. With a start list of 100 riders, even 10th is pretty damn impressive.
So, these top 10 Men move on to face the likes of pre-qualified halfpipe riders Danny Davis, Shaun White, Danny Kass, Scotty Lago, Luke Mitrani, Mason Aguirre and more. (No pressure guys.) Congrats on making it through.
The girls had a better day today with the weather abiding. U.S. rider Clair Bidez took it for the women. The five ladies who made it thru today are up against the legendary Kelly Clark and new-to-pipe-but-kills-it Jamie Anderson. Jamie actually won the pipe event last year, and I do believe it was the first professional pipe contest she has ever entered, although Jamie is a long-time and well-known dominatrix when it comes to Slopestyle. Girl goes big.
Halfpipe Qualifications Men
1 Stale Sandbech NOR Oslo Oakley
2 Tore Holvik NOR Geilo Sweet
3 Johann Baisamy FRA Neuvecelle Billabong
4 Dimi Jong NED Den Haag O'Neill
5 Kleivdal Roger NOR Geilo Sweet
6 Stewart Ben NZL Whaangamata O'Neill
7 Christian Haller SUI Zernez Burton
8 Steve Krijbolder NED Zoetermeer O'Neill
9 Shuhei Sato JPN Asahikawa Gray
10 Taylor Gold USA Steamboat Springs Burton
Halfpipe Qualifications Women
1 Clair Bidez USA Minturn Nikita
2 Ryoko Iijima JPN Saitamaken Moss
3 Silvia Mittermueller GER Mnchen Oakley
4 Ursina Haller SUI Zernez K2
5 Naho Mizuki JPN Inuyama Aichi Ride
Come back later and we'll fill you in. The good stuff is yet to come. (Finals, they are really what matter at the 2009 Burton New Zealand Open anyway.)