Words: T Bird
Photos: Steve Marentette
Ok, ok, before I go pigeonholing myself as the contest coverage guy who's always super optimistic and makes everything out to be way more awesome than it is, let me pose one question to you: Have you ever been to Canada? If your answer is "no," then listen up. If your answer is "yes," then you have absolutely no reason to read the next paragraph in order to justify this paragraph.
I know I said Europe was cool and all, and yes, I stand by that. I will stand by that until there is reason enough for me not to. However, if Europe is indeed cool, then I feel the need to tell you all that Canada is fucking awesome. Sure, we give them a little grief about their pseudo-celebrities, socialized health care (which I back fully, for the record), affinity for denim, and Steve Nash, but Canada is a great, great place. Take this for instance. I am writing this in the lobby of a hotel called "The Sandman" in my underwear and a t-shirt while drinking a refreshing Kokanee beer (I'm also quite drunk from being at a raucous party in which the stars of Fubar were in attendance and Mix Master Mike was the DJ), and all anyone has said to me (two people, actually) is "Nice look, man." Oh, and I saw Scotty Shaw. Canada is just a great place. Be it the people, the approach, the environment, whatever. It's just a great place.
Aside from my personal feelings toward the only country in the world in which over ninety-percent of its population resides within 100 miles of the US border, Canada is also host to the Canadian Open Snowboarding Championships in Calgary. Hosted at COP (Canada Olympic Park, constructed for the 1988 Winter Olympic Games), the third annual Canadian Open went down today, and as odd as it was to see an entire "mountain" dedicated to one event (literally, the miniscule hill is barely enough to build a slope course and a pipe), the riding was far from sub-par. It's a hurried affair, as I flew in last night and leave on Sunday, but it's not too little time to have a slope and a pipe event of world-class caliber. Take for instance that today, the morning was dedicated to men's and women's slope semi-finals (finals are tomorrow) and the in the evening, the men's and women's pipe finals went down. Here's what happened in the men's and women's pipe finals in bullet-point format. Remember: I am quite drunk, so these will be short and sweet:
-Kelly Clark no longer has any competition. She ruined everyone, while still holding on to a massive front nine and an "only-landed-by-her-ever" front ten. There's just no stopping her unless some chicks seriously step up.
-Cilka Sadar rode insane, garnering second place. She kept speed, landed technical tricks, and showed everyone in attendance that if there were anyone to give Kelly a run for her money tonight, it was her. Still, she scored about thirteen points lower than Kelly for second.
-Mercedes Nicoll is no joke. She's been doing this a long time and it showed in a group of relative newbies. She landed clean, consistent runs to land in third. Again, she couldn't touch Kelly. No one could.
-Kazuhiro Kokubo may have a native rider to finally pass the torch to. His name is Kohei Kudo. For years, Kazu has been hands-down the most dominant Japanese pipe rider in the world and no one was really chasing him. Well, consider Kohei in the running. The kid goes huge. So does Kazu. The kid came out of nowhere. So did Kazu. Kohei was the only rider to score in the 90s tonight. He won. Remember his name.
-Scotty James goes big now. I know that sounds rude, but I've been a fan of Scotty since I saw him at The Launch three years ago. He just lacked amplitude. No more. The reason he got second is because he finally went big throughout an entire pipe run, and no one (except Kohei) was more deserving of a podium finish tonight than Scotty.
-Christian Haller knows how to ride under pressure. After two failed attempts to make podium in his first two runs, he turned it on, and he put down a run that would've been top three worthy if…
-Jack Mitrani didn't get buttfucked. Again, rude…yes, I know, but Jack deserved a top three finish tonight. Unfortunately, he fell victim to the Kevin Pearce/Shaun White scandal of '08 where Kevin went way bigger but Shaun got more hits, thus, Shaun's overall run faired better with the judges. Call me old fashioned, but size far outweighs finesse. Sorry.
Regardless, it was a great pipe contest, and slope should be really good tomorrow. I'll fill you in on all the details, but for now, I got some gool ol' partying to partake in…Canadian style. (I don't know what that means, but it sounds awesome). I gotta go find the Fubar guys.
1. Kelly Clark
2. Cilka Sadar
3. Mercedes Nicoll
1. Kohei Kudo
2. Scotty James
3. Christian Haller