Yesterday, Vail played host to the men's and women's slopestyle semi finals of the Burton US Open and the riding was predictably heavy. Canadian Spencer O'Brien nudged Jamie Anderson out of pole position on her last run, while Torstein Horgmo blew minds seemingly without even breaking a sweat. [We're working on the highlights of yesterday's action. Check back later to watch how it went down.]
It's the first time Vail's hosted this prestigious event - now in its 31st edition - and they've constructed quite the slopestyle course to show they mean business. Starting with the MINI jib section - an assortment of rails scattered around a huge wallride feature - the run opens out into three monumental mounds of snow with jumps tagged on their summits. Seriously, we were floored by the scale of the landings, but chat from the riders (and the riding itself) suggested that said landings could have done with being a little steeper - it wasn't uncommon for people to get the landing gear down, yet get bucked.
Nevertheless, the riding from the shredders at the apex of the slopestyle game was predictably bolts. Women's slopestyle is often a two-horse race these days, with Jamie Anderson and Spencer O'Brien duking it out for the top spot, and in the semis it was the Canadian who took first blood. Spencer led the women’s field with her winning run that included a frontside boardslide, MINI wallride to gap to frontside lipslide, 50-50 frontside 180 out, switch backside 180 mute grab, and a frontside 360 to backside 540 indy grab. She was also bummed that in claiming the top spot she bumped 14-year-old Japanese girl Miyabi Onitsuka out of the finals, once again confirming she could very well be the nicest person on the planet. Right behind her was Jamie Anderson (USA) in second and Brooke Voigt (CAN) in third. In total, 21 women from 11different countries battled it out on the slopestyle course and the top sixriders will advance to the finals.
On the men’s side, Norwegian Torstein Horgmo simply made A-grade snowboarding look like the easiest thing in the world. He cruised into first place with a winning run that included a switch backside 270 on, MINI wallride to switch frontside boardslide 270 out, switch lipslide 270 out, switch backside 900 mute grab, and a frontside double cork 1080 mute grab followed by a huge backside double cork 1080 indy grab. Close behind him was Eric Willett (USA) in second and young-gun Yuki Kadono (JPN) - whose first run front 12 attempt was so big we thought he was going to land in Denver - in third. But for all the guys and girls you knew that the handbrake was most certainly on. Come finals on March 1st the level will ratchet up a notch or two. Make sure you tune in.
Women’s Slopestyle Semi-Final Results
1. Spencer O’Brien CAN, NIKE, 75.33
2. Jamie Anderson USA, BILLABONG, 74.88
3. Brooke Voigt CAN, 32 SNOWBOARD BOOTS, 70.08
4. Sarka Pancochova CZE, FLOW, 69.53
5. Christy Prior NZL, BURTON, 63.53
6. Shelly Gotlieb NZL, BURTON, 62.00
Men’s Slopestyle Semi-Final Results
1. Torstein Horgmo NOR, DC SHOE CO USA, 87.93
2. Eric Willett USA, VANS, 84.26
3. Yuki Kadono JPN, RIDE, 83.88
4. Mark McMorris CAN, BURTON, 83.43
5. Chas Guldemond USA, ROCKSTAR, 81.25
6. Peetu Piiroinen FIN, NIKE, 80.63
7. Maxence Parrot CAN, O’NEILL, 80.28
8. Stale Sandbech NOR, OAKLEY, 80.03
9. Sage Kotsenburg USA, NIKE, 79.28
10. Ryan Stassel USA, BURTON, 77.23
11. Jamie Nicholls GBR, NIKE, 75.03
12. Darcy Sharpe CAN, MONSTER, 74.98