It was another epic day of competition up in Laax for the men's and women's Burton European Open halfpipe finals, with Iouri Podladtchikov (SUI) and Ursina Haller (SUI) stoking out the Swiss crowd by taking top honours.
After a super sick day on the slopestyle course on Saturday it was all eyes on the stunt ditch on Sunday for an epic show featuring some of the world's finest halfpipe riders. The assembled crowd literally parted the clouds with their positive vibes and once again the contest was blessed with great weather and conditions.
First up were the women, and with Enni Rukajärvi still out after an injury in slopestyle practice the day prior, there were only 5 ladies (instead of 6) going for gold in finals. In the first run of three the girls were keen to get a safety run under their belts and put down strings of stylish 5s and 7s to set a solid benchmark. Switzerland's Ursina Haller's super strong first run which included a massive frontside 720, saw her take an early lead.
That score stuck through most of round two, until fellow Swiss Verena Rohrer put down a massive run with two 7s to pluck the top spot out of Ursina's hands. But Ursina soon struck back hard, putting down a frontside 9, back to back 5s, a method and her signature front 7 to regain poll position.
This has always been my favourite event and I have never won it until now so I am so stoked
Next up were the men and once again the riders list was looking Swiss heavy with Iouri Podladtchikov, Christian 'Hitch' Haller and Markus Keller all in the top 3 seeded positions.
In the first runs, the guys mostly took it easy, although Shuhei Osanai from Japan came out guns blazing and chucked the first double of the competition, while 15-year-old Jake Pates went flat-out massive. He held the lead until Iouri locked down a solid first run to post the highest score in round 1.
Markus Keller's runs, in which he'd vowed not to spin over a 720 (a very welcome change to the double and triple cork madness we've been subjected to over the last few seasons) was doing the most stylish run of the entire competition, with a super sick alley-oop front 5, air to fakie, switch method and chicken wing 7, but was not able to secure a spot on the podium.
In the second runs Kosuke Hosokawa held it down on behalf of the Japanese contingent and put down a solid run to land himself in second, before being bumped down by Jake Pates and Christian Haller.
Veteran competitor Janne Korpi pulled out a sick final run which included a cab double 10 and front 10 to leapfrog up into third place. The remaining riders weren't able to alter the top three positions any further, leaving Iouri with a victory run.
And what a victory lap it was. Massive straight airs all the way down the pipe, including a picture perfect method and one of the biggest air to fakies we've ever, ever seen. He was literally like 6 metres up. So sick.
Understandably, Iouri was stoked with his result:
I was never riding at such a high level as I am now and LAAX is a good place for me as it seems like I’m a specialist in this pipe.
The halfpipe finals rounded up what has been another absolutely fantastic week out in Laax. As always the park has been incredible to ride and mother nature decided to give us a break for once. Much love to Burton for putting on one of the very sickest events of 2014 and we're already looking forward to next year!
Here are the obligatory podium shots: