16/12/2013 | by Mike Brindley
On the second day of the Burton New Zealand Open, competition moved to Cardrona Alpine Resort’s 22-foot Olympic size halfpipe.
An advancing front of bad weather made conditions a bit challenging, but the riders were out in full force for the halfpipe pre-qualifier and qualifier rounds. Competition kicked off in the morning with 53 men and 28 women going after a top spot to advance to Saturday’s semi-finals round. The riders who advance to semi-finals will join invited professionals like Ryo Aono (JPN), Louie Vito (USA), Iouri Podladtchikov (SUI), Kendall Brown (NZL), and Kelly Clark (USA).
The men were split into two heats for the pre-qualifiers, with the top 25 riders advancing through to the qualifiers, which ran immediately after. 14 year-old Taku Hiraoka (JPN) was on point all day and was able to take the top spot in both his pre-qualifier and qualifier heats. Hiraoka’s winning run started with a method, followed by a crippler, backside 540 mute, frontside inverted 720, and finished with a huge Haakon flip earning him 87.83 points. Fellow Japanese rider Keito Kumazaki was hot on his heels with 87.50 points, earned with a run that consisted of a frontside 540 melon, crail, frontside 720, Haakon flip, and frontside 900 tailgrab. In third place was the winner of yesterday’s Slopestyle qualifications, Benjamin Farrow (USA), who finished with 85.50 points. Others to advance and make the cut to semi-finals included Brennen Swanson (USA), Spencer Shaw (USA), and Mitchell Brown (NZL).
The increasing winds during the day made conditions particularly challenging for the women’s qualifiers. Once again Japanese riders dominated the field, claiming four of the five available spots through to semi-finals. Leading the charge was 15 year-old Hikaru Oe with an impressive 95.00 points, in a run that started with a Lien air, backside 540, frontside 540, backside air, and a stalefish. Haruna Matsumoto was second with 87.67 points, and Ryoko Iijima third with 79.83 points. Akiko Miwa (JPN) was fourth, with Silvia Mittermueller (GER) rounding out the top 5.
Semi-finals and finals of the event will be webcast live from New Zealand on go211.com.