2011 Burton New Zealand Open Slopestyle Finals
Words: T. Bird

Did you know that it's winter in New Zealand? Did you also know that New Zealand plays host to some of the best resorts in the Southern Hemisphere? Did you know that they drive on the left hand side of the road in New Zealand? Or that the toilets don't really flush counter-clockwise? Oh, and Mark McMorris and Jamie Anderson are the two best slopestyle riders in the world? How about that it's not really socially acceptable to fornicate with a sheep? Okay, one of those is a lie. Jamie Anderson and Mark McMorris aren't technically "the best slopestyle riders in the world." But they were today.

In all seriousness, the slopestyle finals of the 2011 Burton New Zealand Open took place under windless, sunny skies at Cardrona Resort in N. Zed. A talented field of sixteen men and eight women gathered atop the 5-Star TTR setup consisting of three rail features and three jumps. Qualifications during the past few days were no indication of the final result, as Tim Humphreys, who qualified first in the men's field failed to make the podium (in his defense, it was his first TTR-sanctioned event in over a year) and Charlotte Van Gils, the women's top qualifier also came short of a top three finish…but those weren't very much of a surprise. Turns out, it would be a day of few surprises.

In the women's field consisting of Tomoko Kikuchi, Silje Norendal, Shelly Gottlieb and Charlotte, three women came out victorious. Jordie Karlinski put down a run that landed her in third place, while Kjersti Buass took second, and surprise, surprise…Jamie Anderson won. However, Jamie's victory, or the other two's top three finish were not the highlight of the day on the women's side of things. The overriding moment, to me at least, was witnessing 31-year old New Zealand native Shelly Gottlieb try two double backflips on her final two runs. Granted, she crashed harder than a meth addict in an abandoned warehouse, it was refreshing to see someone attempt to progress women's competitive snowboarding in some fashion. Now, before you go and take that as a jab, examine the truth of the latter sentence. Jamie is amazing, yes. But Jamie has been doing the same run for two years now. I would too, for the record, if I were making tens of thousands of dollars per event. However, there aren't any girls pushing her to try harder tricks, and although Jamie is extremely capable of them, she's not even being forced to try. And so Shelly, I tip my beanie in your general direction. Keep it up. Please.

The men came down to the wire, as Tyler Flanagan, Sebastien Toutant, Stale Sandbech and Mark McMorris battled it out run-by-run. Other notable riders were Tim Humphreys, Torgeir Bergrem, Seppe Smits, Gjermund Braaten, Roope Tonteri, Ulrik Badertscher, and Charles Ried, who were all double corking their way to an inevitable coma in their late sixties, but really, the spotlight shone on the aforementioned four. Which again, is no real surprise. These four kids (and they really are kids) are the four that have taken the slopestyle world by storm. Well, Stale may not be as profound in this genre yet, but mark my words, the kid can compete with the best of them. Take the X Games for example. How many of you were as elated to see Shaun lose to the new guard as me? Chances are, plenty. And unless Shaun steps it up and builds another multi-million dollar Olympic TF, then I personally don't think he has a chance of making slopestyle podium in Sochi. Regardless, Flanagan lande in fourth while Stale took third. The tension actually mounted pretty well during Seb's third and final run, in which he trailed McMorris by a mere .35 points. At the end of his run, after putting down three double cork variations clean, it still wasn't enough to beat the Burton kid, who took the top spot at the first BGOS stop of the season. Yeah, that's right…the winter season. Summer's over, at least down here, and halfpipe is set to go down tomorrow, so stay tuned to snowboardermag.com to find out what's up down under.

2011 Burton New Zealand Open Slopestyle Results:

1. Jamie Anderson, $7,000
2. Kjersti Buass, $3,500
3. Jordie Karlinski, $1,500
1. Mark McMorris, $7,000
2. Sébastien Toutant, $3,500
3. Stale Sandbech, $1,500