When: August 11-15th, 2009

Where: Cardrona, New Zealand

Another day of bluebird skies graced Cardrona Alpine Resort, which remained impervious to the clouds, sitting above the inversion layer once again for men’s and women’s slopestyle semifinal and final competitions today. Part of the Burton Global Open Series and the Swatch Ticket To Ride World Snowboard Tour, the seventh annual New Zealand Open showcased some of the world’s best riders as they took to Cardrona’s 800m long slopestyle course, which featured up and downrails, boxes, three kickers and a unique upstair feature to quarterpipe.

A field of 42 men and 16 women were battling it out for a piece of the $24,000 slopestyle prize purse and the top spots worth $6,000 each. An international field of riders from nine countries included New Zealand’s own Shelly Gotlieb, James Hamilton, Stef Zeestraten, in addition to BGOS Champions Chas Guldemond and Jamie Anderson, Olympians Danny Kass and Mason Aguirre, and many more.

The women were first to drop and competition was stiff through semifinals, but it was Kiwi Shelly Gotlieb that came out on top, killing it on the course with a run that featured style and variety on the rails, a Cab 5 indy, a backflip and a backside 360 tailgrab. Gotlieb continued to ride strong through the finals, taking third, being outdone by Janna Weatherby (USA) in second and 2008 NZO slopestyle champion Jamie Anderson (USA) in first. Anderson impressed the judges with a run that started with a street style tailslide, 5-0 to fakie on the box into a switch backside 360 on the first kicker, followed by a Cab 540 melon into a front 360 melon, followed by a 5-0 on the uprail, to a tail stall on the quarterpipe, finishing with a 50/50 frontside boardslide on the kinked rail. “I had a blast," said Anderson of her win. “It was a beautiful day, we lucked out with the weather, and I was happy with my riding, I had so much fun today."

French Canadians Sebastien Toutant and Charles Reid clinched the top two spots in men’s semifinals, Toutant taking the top spot by wowing the judges with his signature “Toutsie Roll," a backside doublecork 1080 melon. Reid couldn’t stick his run in the finals, dropping him to the back of the pack, but Torstein Horgmo (NOR) threw down in his third and final run with back to back 1080s, giving him an edge and finishing second. Eric Willet (USA) stuck back-to-back 900s and had smooth style on the rails, giving him an edge and riding away with third. But in the end, Sebastien recreated his winning run from semis by starting off with a backside 270 on the first rail to 50/50 backside 360 on the second rail, into a backside rodeo 540 indy, into a Cab 900 stalefish, followed by a backside 1080 double cork melon, followed by a noseslide on the uprail to alleyoop backside 50/50 on the quarter, finishing with a frontside boardslide on the kinked rail. “I’m so stoked to win my first contest of the year," said Toutant. “It was a great course, very different. I had fun trying new things and am so happy to do well."

With 850 TTR ranking points, both winners of today's slopestyle finals took over the world number one spots on the Swatch TTR World Snowboard Tour. The Burton New Zealand Open is a perfect opportunity for riders to get a jumpstart heading into the Northern Hemisphere winter.

Tomorrow the New Zealand Open will come to a close with halfpipe semifinals and finals, don’t miss your chance to see Olympic Gold Medalists Kelly Clark and Shaun White, in addition to two-time Olympic medalist Danny Kass, past Olympians Mason Aguirre (USA), Cheryl Maas (NED), Antti Autti (FIN) and Olympic hopefuls like Jiayu Liu (CHN), Peetu Piiroinen (FIN), Jamie Anderson (USA), Justin Lamoureux (CAN), Lisa Wiik (NOR), Danny Davis (USA) and Sina Candrian (SUI).

Burton would like to thank Cardrona Alpine Resort, Go211.com, Speight’s Summit Golden Lager, Juice TV, The Edge FM, Anon Optics, High Cascade Snowboard Camp, Nature Valley, goodbars.co.nz, Joe’s Garage, SolRX, McKenna, Smirnoff Ice Double Black and Swatch TTR World Snowboard Tour for their support of the New Zealand Open.

If you can’t make it to New Zealand, watch the semi-finals and finals live on Go211.com, where webcasts and highlights of the competitions will also be available for on-demand viewing once the event is over.