Kelly Clark and Iouri Podladtchikov get pitted the deepest to win the shaka-tastic 2015 BEO pipe in Laax, Switzerland.
After the bluebird conditions for most of yesterday's slopestyle showdown here on the Crap Sogn Gion, the weather reverted to the week's more typical pow-spewing type this morning as all eyes were peering through the relentless blizzard at Laax's epic new superpipe.
Although the snow was falling in a manner that undulated from mild- to heavy, mercifully the fog for the most part shunned the longest semi tube on the planet and meant the Powder Open got the results it deserved for being so nice to us all week and letting us blast faceshots as the event organisers' faces were etched with deep lines of worry.
Conditions were tough, though, and as seems to be the unfortunate norm, the ladies had to endure competing in the worst conditions of the day. Visibility was a challenge, and in such situations experience counts double, so it was no surprise to see Kelly Clark notch up another win on her BEO bedpost thanks to her ever-solid airs and back to back combos. She edged out newcomer and future (even current, given the X Games win) heir to women's pipe riding, Chloe Kim, with recently unretired Swiss Nadja Purtschert rounding out the women's podium.
Someone at Burton must have a sideline in virgin sacrifice as, against seemingly all odds, the clouds parted and the blizzard abated mere minutes before the dudes were about to drop in for their final three runs. Christian Haller was again treating us to the sickest Methods before launching into more technical affairs, Arthur Longo sent it to the moon as ever and finished off with an insane switch double alley-oop rodeo, but although the visibility was infinitely better than the girls had to endure, you could tell the conditions weren't quite ideal as several riders struggled to string together a clean run through the 6.9m high, 200m long beast of snow sculpting excellence.
One who did was local boy David Hablutzel, who looked visibly hyped to put down a second run that shot him up the rankings into third place where he'd remain. Ayumu Hirano was launching as ever almost triple overhead out of the first hit, and then blitzing combos like 15m-long double corks into huge front 12s, but, much like the Olympics last year, he had to settle for second place behind Iouri Podladtchikov. Iouri, to be fair, won with his first, effectively 'safety' run, and while he looked to strengthen his hold on the prize on run two, he came a cropper on the double McTwist 12 so had to wait it out to see if anyone else would make him go all in on run three. They didn't and he victory lapped his way down to the hoots of proud Swiss people, and people who like his Method. You always knew he had another gear to step up into if needed, and (especially seeing as he's only just working his way back from injury) he cements his reputation as the guy to beat in the stunt ditch.
So, everyone got to shralp a bunch of pow and the weather cooperated to let everyone get the results they needed. All in all, a frickin' awesome event as ever at the Burton European Open Vacation. Shaka, and Mahalo!