Burton US Open 2017 – Shaun White & Chloe Kim Win Halfpipe Finals

The 2016 Burton US Open halfpipe champions successfully retained their titles on Saturday, as both Chloe Kim and Shaun White beat all comers in one of the most thrilling pipe events in recent memory.

Despite appearing a little shaky in the semi-finals, Chloe was always going to be the favourite in the women’s event – more so after Kelly Clark took a knock in practice and was ruled out of the final. It wasn’t a top-drawer routine that Chloe put down at first, but it was one that she was able to build on. By her third run, she had pulled well clear of the rest of the pack thanks to her run of backside air, frontside 1080 tailgrab, cab 720 melon, frontside 900 and McTwist on the last hit.     ,

“The first hit became a pissing contest of sorts, with every rider looking to go bigger than the last”

Despite Kelly’s absence it was an all-American podium – Maddie Mastro impressed the judges enough with her run for third place, while Elena Hight took home a silver US Open medal to hang next to her X Games gold. Better luck next year, Japan.

So marred with technical hiccups was the start of the men’s event that we half expected La La Land to be announced as the winner. Things eventually got a lot smoother, though – both in the commentary box and in the pipe.

The first hit became a pissing contest of sorts, with every rider looking to go bigger than the last – which may explain why so few managed to put a complete run down on their first attempt.

Chase Josey had the deepest bag of double-cork tricks, putting down both regular and switch versions with ease. Only his last hit was a standard spin, by which point any mere mortal would probably have motion sickness. It all added up to a score that would eventually earn him third place.

Scotty James, the top qualifier, was able to put down yet another world-class run – the kind that might have secured victory at any other event. However, given how the US Open seems to bring out the best in Shaun White, winning there is almost impossible.

Shaun’s run featured all the old favourites, including that monstrous backside air, cab double 1400, ‘Skyhook’ 540 stalefish and double mctwist 1260. Once amplitude, difficulty and flow were taken into account, there was no question that he’d be going home with the gold.

“The US Open seems to bring out the best in Shaun White”

In the end, the men’s final had something for everyone. Style fans could enjoy Danny Davis’ runs, which included an alley-oop that bagged the Best Trick award, while anyone who came for a gnarly slam would have been satisfied with Ayumu Hirano’s shocker (one from which the young Japanese rider was fortunately able to ride away).

Raibu Katayama emerged as a force to be reckoned with in future, while Shaun showed that even a 30-year-old can still school the rest of the field – and as the Olympic countdown continues, halfpipe riding is only going to get more interesting.


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