Words: T. Bird
Photos: Adam Moran
Well, we lucked out again. The weather up at Cardrona was picture perfect. Not a cloud in the sky and little to no wind whatsoever. Not to mention what lay underneath it was a perfectly cut halfpipe for the world's best to test their luck in. Heading into the afternoon finals, there were the clear favorites in the men's and women's fields, but by the day's end, although the women's field turned out rather predictably, the men's event was anything but.
Eight women moved on to the finals. They were: Queralt Castellet, Rebecca Sinclair, Elena Hight, Kjersti Buass, Gretchen Bleiler, China's Xuetong Cai, Kelly Clark, and Hannah Teter. Now, I'll give you one guess as to who made the podium. Well, I guess there was one surprise, because Gretchen Bleiler would be in my initial guess of the top three. Instead, it was Queralt Castellet in third, Hannah Teter in second, and of course, Kelly Clark taking home the top spot. See? No real surprise there, except Gretchen's absence from the three most coveted spots, but Queralt rips, and her run earned that elite place right behind Hannah and Kelly.
The men's field was riddled with a Japanese contingent. Seven of the final sixteen riders who advanced to finals were from the Land of the Rising Sun. And one would win. But we'll get to that. Highlights for me were seeing Danny Davis ride, 12 year-old Ayumu Hirano almost landing in the top three despite leading the final for most of the day, and Daisuke Murakami going absolutely ballistic on every single run. The dude went consistently bigger than anyone I have seen at a pipe event in quite some time. He's sick. And he's 28. Who says there's an age limit when it comes to progression? Other notables were Stale Sandbech, Mason Aguirre, Kohei Kudo, JJ Thomas, Zack Black, and Taku Hiraoka (remember this name as well). However, in the end, it was Iouri Podladtchikov who took third place, Louie Vito in second, and….Ryo Aono in first. That's right. Ryo Aono is back, and his third run score in the low 90s was the highest of the day. However, being the type that I am, I do feel a need to express a little opinion here, by stating that he missed quite a lot of his grabs. Four, to be exact (and no, grabbing the last 90 of a front ten does not qualify as a legitimate grab). But, I will say that I am stoked for Ryo, and he did go extremely big during his impassioned final run. I'm not saying it wasn't warranted, but it was certainly justifiable to scrutinize. Regardless, the event was insane, and the 2011 Burton New Zealand Open is a wrap. Stay tuned for more videos and photos of the event, here on snowboardermag.com.
2011 Burton New Zealand Open Halfpipe Results:
1. Kelly Clark, $7,000
2. Hannah Teter, $3,500
3. Queralt Castellet, $1,500
1. Ryo Aono, $7,000
2. Louie Vito, $3,500
3. Iouri Podladtchikov, $1,500