Words: T. Bird
Photos: Jeff Patterson
Last year, in my intro, I emphasized the fact that Canada might be my favorite country in the world, for myriad reasons. Well, let me follow up in my second year of covering the Burton Canadian Open Prsented by MINI with an exponentiated sentiment of fondness for our neighbor to the north. You see, my friend Preston Strout and I are staying at a hotel directly across the street from Canada Olympic Park (COP), and when we're done working every night, the shuttles have stopped running. Therefore, we've been catching rides home with random locals after the events. Tonight, we got a ride with two young kids named Jordan and Alex. Both had a hunk of chew jammed into their lower lip. We got to talking. Alex had just gotten back from San Diego, and when I asked him where exactly he was in San Diego, he said, "Well, I don't quite remember, hey? I was just down there getting' boiled, and all the streets have Mexican names. Too may fuckin' Mexican names to recall."
Yeah, I love Canada. These people make me laugh.
I also love Canada because every year, the Canadian Open plays host to some of the best competition riding in North America. The vibe, the scene, and the snowboarding are pretty much next-level, and today's pipe finals were no different.
Aside from the fact that some of the heavy hitters in the men's field are missing due to a little thing that Travis Rice is putting on up in Baldface (can you blame McMorris and Sage for going to Supernatural? Because I can't.) and the Air & Style going on over in Innsbruck, the slope and pipe riders are still world class, and they put on one hell of a show today and this evening.
Before the sun went down, the men's and women's slopestyle semifinals took the main stage, with Chas Guldemond and Shelly Gotlieb qualifying first, and tomorrow's final should be pretty sick with the park that Pat Malendoski and Planet Snow Design put together. But the marquee was the night pipe finals. The women's field was–ahem–stacked with Gretchen Bleiler, Cilka Sadar, Hannah Teter, Queralt Castellet, Ellery Hollingsworth, Sarah Conrad, and Ursina Haller battling it out under the lights. Surprisingly, Kelly Clark was absent from the final despite qualifying second in semifinals. Rumor has it she got a little jacked in practice and decided to play it safe, and with the obscene amount of events still left on her plate this winter, she made the right call. It was cold, and that kept the pipe from getting too rutted out, and the ladies rode insanely well. In the end though, the underdog finally had her day. Queralt Castellet not only took home first, nut she also became the second woman ever to land a 1080 in competition (behind none other than Kelly Clark). Queralt killed it and earned herself $10,000, while Gretchen grabbed second and Ellery third. Hannah Teter simply couldn't put down the run she wanted, but charged in the finals nonetheless.
In the men's field, though it was a bit scarce, the riding was phenomenal. Brennen Swanson, Harrison Gray, twelve year-old Gabe Ferguson, fourteen year-old Kyle Mack, Japanese newcomer Tasuku Ishizaki, Derek Livingston, Janne Korpi, Markus Malin, Jan Scherrer, and Ryo Aono were but some of the standouts in a session filled with double corks and double overhead airs. Gabe Ferguson stoked me out the most simply because at his age, and at his weight, he was riding at such an intense level in such a pressure cooker, and he showed the world that he's got quite the career ahead of him in the coming years. Scotty James boosted and ended up in fifth. Derek Livingston, a rider relatively unheard of, put together an insane run and nabbed fourth. He looked more stoked than anyone in the finals. The top three went to Finnish riders Janne Korpi and Markus Malin who locked down third and second respectively, and the man of the night was Ryo Aono. Coming fresh off a bronze medal at Winter X Games 15, Ryo went bigger and charger harder than any of his cohorts, and came away with the win and $10,000 in his pocket.
The Burton Canadian Open presented by MINI is far from over, so be sue to check back to snowboardermag.com for the full recap from slopestyle finals tomorrow. For now, I'm about to head into downtown Calgary and attempt to get "boiled." Whatever the hell that means, I'm sure it'll be a damn good time. After all, this is Canada.
- Queralt Castellet, $10,000
- Gretchen Bleiler, $5,000
- Ellery Hollingsworth $2,500
- Ryo Aono, $10,000
- Markus Malin, $5,000
- Janne Korpi $2,500