Recap: T. Bird
Photos: Laura Austin
Captions: Pat Bridges
Ever since I was a baby, the US Open has been the perennial and annual event in snowboarding, and I mean that quite literally. During the first US Open, I couldn't walk, because I hadn't yet learned how to. Thirty years later, not much has changed, and my trouble walking is predominantly due to inebriation.
In Vermont, they say, "If the weather sucks, wait a minute," and today was no exception as almost every variable climate rolled through Stratton, but it wasn't enough to slow the men's and women's slopestyle finals down. The women went first, dropping into the jib and jump lines sculpted by Snow Park Technologies, and the weather was much better for the women than for the men, and you could see that in the tricks they threw out for the judges.
New Zealand's Shelly Gotlieb came so close to landing a back nine I nearly jumped out of my seat. Shelly would've been the first woman I've ever seen firsthand land that trick, and I applaud her for attempting it. She did put down some solid tricks in her other runs but it was that attempt that stuck with me. Good on ya, Shelly. Joanna Dzierzawski has been on a roll this winter, and she didn't stop her phenomenal riding at the Open. Kjersti Buass put down one of the best back threes I've ever seen, tweaking super hard and sending it deep into the landing. For her efforts, she landed in second place. Third went to Enni Rukajärvi who tossed back-to-back fives and clean, solid jibs while the win went to none other than the best women's slope rider the world has ever known, Jamie Anderson. From the moment Jamie put down her second run score of 90.1, it was over. She's unstoppable, and even though Jordie Karlinski, Spencer O'Brien, Sina Candrian, and the aforementioned women rode incredibly, it simply wasn't enough to stop Jamie's dominance. All in all, it was a super good slope contest. Nice job, ladies.
The men dropped in the afternoon, and there was nothing any of them could do about the finicky Vermont weather. Sun turned to clouds, and eventually snow, and many of the men had a hard time dealing with the rapid change in climate. The first five riders who dropped fell on the first hit after the two jibs that started the course. Scotty Lago, Eric Willett, and Chas Guldemond were three of those five riders. That says something about the complications caused by the inclement weather.
However, Ulrik Badertscher's first run put him in the top spot for most of the event, as other premier slope riders and a handful of up-and-comers tried to knock the Norwegian down from his throne. It wasn't until Sebastién Toutant landed a ridiculous run that garnered him a score of 92 even that Ulrik dropped down to second. Despite the efforts of Willett, Guldemond, Christian Haller, Sage Kotsenburg, Lago, and Seppe Smits, no one could stop the French Canadian powerhouse. Seb won. Seppe got third.
However, riders like Maxcence Parrot rejuvenated my stoke in the idea that the next generation of slope riders have arrived. This kid could be the next Seb Toots. He qualified second for finals, has a dizzying array of double corks, and is absolutely fearless. He's sick. Robby Balharry, Eric Beauchemin, Hand Mindnich, and Emil Ulsletten showed glimmers of brilliance as well. Even though they didn't make it into the top three, they made the finals at the longest-standing snowboard contest in the history of our sport. Today was yet another epic Open for the record books. It's good to be back in Stratton. Here's to another thirty years.
Stay tuned to snowboardermag.com for all the updates here from the US Open Snowboarding Championships, and go to redbull.tv to watch the live webcast of men's and women's pipe finals starting tomorrow at 9:15 EST.
1. Sebastién Toutant (CAN)
2. Ulrik Badertscher (NOR)
3. Seppe Smits (BEL)
1. Jamie Anderson (USA)
2. Kjersti Buass (NOR)
3. Enni Rukajärvi (FIN)
Recap: T. Bird