The time has come to crown the men’s Swatch TTR Tour Champion at the prestigious 6Star Burton US Open.
Shaun White at last year’s US Open – photo: Rick Levinson
After a highly charged season, Shaun White (USA) and Peetu Piiroinen (FIN) have emerged as the two Title contenders, but only one can walk away victorious. Saturday’s Halfpipe finals, which offer up the first of two batches of 1000 Swatch TTR points, will set the stage for the ultimate Slopestyle showdown. On Sunday, March 22nd, 2009, ten months of competition, dedication and hard work will culminate when a victor is crowned and the Tour defining contest decides the TTR Top 5.
Riders will descend upon freestyle snowboarding’s holy ground where they will chase Halfpipe and Slopestyle glory in search of the final 2000 crucial ranking points. Now in its 27th year, the Burton US Open will give riders a chance to etch their name into Swatch TTR history and earn part of the $200,000 USD prize money.
Piiroinen has been defending the World No.1 position since the 6Star Billabong Air & Style in Austria and Shaun White will need to perform strongly in both formats in order to knock him off and claim his second Swatch TTR Title. Both riders have what it takes in Halfpipe and Slopestyle contests, ensuring this year’s finale is too close to call.
The leading TTR ranked riders are fighting to secure a position in the coveted Swatch TTR Top 5, which brings with it huge cash prizes and invites to major events next season. World No.2, Chas Guldemond (USA) has had a dream-like tour and will be fighting to defend his position at the US Open. He is going into the race with confidence from his first Halfpipe win at the recent 5Star Asian Open. Last year’s Tour Champion, Vermont native, Kevin Pearce (USA), comes into the contest with the hometown advantage and has the ability to improve on his World No.4 ranking, espacially after winning one of the most prestigious 6Star Halfpipe contests of the season, the 6Star Burton European Open. Further down the ranks in World No.8, sits Mason Aguirre (USA), who recently has been charging up the ranking. The American contingent will be locked in a battle for the TTR Top 5 with World No.3 Risto Mattila (FIN) and World No.6 Antti Autti (FIN). Both these riders have won competitions with their technical smooth style and are hungry for a Finnish finish on the podium.
The women’s race is also hurtling toward a climatic end. The significant amounts of rankings points available at the Burton US Open mean the gaps between contenders will close further. It is the rider’s last chance to move up the ranks before the Women’s Tour Champion is crowned at 6Star Roxy Chicken Jam US. Current World No.1, Jamie Anderson (USA) has a good leeway and remains in her spot on the rankings; however, after the US Open it will be possible for a number of riders to take her down. World No.2, Silvia Mittermueller (GER), World No.4, Sarka Pancochova (CZE) and World No.5, Lisa Wiik (NOR) are going head to head for the World No.2 ranking in the Halfpipe – all of them viable threats. In what is a truly international race, World No.7, Sina Candrian (SUI), World No.9, Spencer O’Brien (CAN) and World No.12, Cheryl Maas (NED) are all vying to earn points in both formats in an attempt to make a play for the Swatch TTR Tour Champion Title one week later. Kjersti Buaas (NOR), who is currently sitting in World No.15, can with four strong results also remain in the title race. America’s favourite Queen of the Halfpipe, Kelly Clark has won her last two major Halfpipe events and will be going for the hat-trick in front of the home crowd. A win here will bolster her position in the TTR Top 10 so expect to see some serious amplitude.
Log on to ttrworldtour.com and read the news, watch videos and get the low down before the Tour draws to a close this weekend. Live coverage begins March 20th on go211.com so tune in and brace yourself for a showdown packed finale.