The Burton US Open has long been THE contest to get noticed at.
In the 1990s, it was the contest that symbolised Terje’s absolute domination of competitive snowboarding. The US Open is also where a then-unknown 14 year-old called Kazuhiro ‘Kazu’ Kokubo burst onto the scene back in 2003. And in 2009, it was the contest that saw Chas Guldemond turn up unannounced, blow away the field and usher in a new era of slopestyle riding.
In short, the list of careers launched at the Burton US Open is long and illustrious. The event has always been completely open to anybody with the skills to step up and make a name for themselves alongside the best snowboarders in the world.
It all helps to explain why at the 2012 event, Nokia introduced the Nokia Rookie Award: a $5,000 prize and Nokia Lumia 800 awarded to the breakthrough male and female talent at this year's half pipe competition.
So how do you determine a ‘breakthrough’ rider? The winners were chosen by an Awards Committee, and presented by current US Open judge Satu Järvelä, whose own wins at the 1995 and 1996 USO half pipe events helped push women’s snowboarding to the next level.
The Committee looked at each competitor’s TTR ranking and scores, rated how progressive their riding was, and examined how far they’d come through the competition.
In the end, two particularly worthy winners were chosen, and Nokia is extremely proud to announce that Ayumu Hirano from Japan and Arielle Gold from the US are the 2012 winners of the Nokia Rookie Award. Get used to those names. If history repeats itself, we'll be hearing a lot more from them in the coming years.