The Burton Qualifiers amateur contest series is charging full steam ahead after stop number four at Boreal Mountain, California. Following the example set by the park crews at previous stops, the crew at Boreal decided to go all out, and built the burliest course in tour history. Combine that with the tour's $20k prize purse, and the stage was set for an epic session.
The word brutal comes to mind - from the course to the riding. Practice was halted for a brief minute when a rider tried to gap from the top of the massive drainage culvert feature past the rail below, resulting in a broken arm. This didn't sway the 15 & under division one bit, as they took to the course first, and laid it down.
15-year-old Jack Coyne had the judges wondering whether he was goofy or regular, tossing a huge backside air, a McTwist, and a handplant on the quarterpipe - all switch. Needless to say, he took home 1st place and a check for $300. Dustin Henricksen came in swinging for second, jumping clean over the giant cement mixer feature and laying down consistent moves across the course for 2nd place and $200. Tony Piccinonno held it down for 3rd and $100, rounding off an insanely talented podium.
When the Open Division stepped in, Tahoe's most talented amateurs kept the judges on their toes. No surprise, it was a rider with purple hair who caught their eyes - Garrett McKenzie - who took the most creative approach to the whole course, combined with exemplary capabilities on all features. He took home the coveted 1st place spot, along with the fat check for $800. His spot was nearly swooped up by 2nd place winner, Keegan Hosefros, who had the crowd and the judges going wild towards the end of the session by putting down a switch backside 270 on the gap-to-rail, following it up with another brought back to fakie. 3rd place went to one of the most consistent riders of the day, Brett Kulas, who walked away $300 richer.
Boreal was by far the heaviest stop so far along the Burton Qualifiers six-stop tour. Even though they're in completely different parts of North America, each stop seems to build off the last. The momentum is strong, and all eyes are now turned on Beaver Valley, Ontario for stop number five - the last of the qualifying events before the finals.
In the end, the top six riders from each division earned themselves a spot at the Burton Qualifiers finals event at Seven Springs, Pennsylvania. Burton Qualifiers is hopping the border to Canada for the next stop on February 4th at Beaver Valley, Ontario. For full tour info, head to BurtonQualifiers.com.