When: 16 January, 2009
Where: Laax, Switzerland
KP booting a McTwist on his way to his second BEO pipe crown. Photo: Lämmerhirt.
Epic riding sees a carbon copy of last year’s results, as Kevin Pearce pips Shaun White at the post and Kelly Clark dominates the women’s field.
Wow. What a final that was. Sorry for the delay in the report but all that sickness left your correspondent actually sick with the dastardly manflu. Bit better now so here’s the skinny on the superpipe finals that set the bar pretty frickin’ high for subsequent pipe contests this season.
With an abundance of balloons hanging in the crystal blue sky, the conditions were as close to perfect as can be for the unwrapping of the last gift at the Burton European Open’s 10th birthday bash. The 16 men and 8 women had three runs to show their wares in the finely sculpted 22-foot deep pipe, with the best one counting.
Snowboarding can seem to be overly obsessed with youth on occasion – if you’re over 27 then there’s gonna be some pre-teen nipping at your heels for your spot on the team – but the interesting fact about these finals was that one finalist in each of the men’s and women’s were not only over 30, Nicola Thost and Gian Simmen were also winners of the first Olympic golds nigh on 11 years ago in Nagano, as the wheels of the first BEO were being set in motion. And they didn’t just make up the numbers either – Gian’s beefy air to fakies were a joy to watch and Nicola was putting down the front 7s despite not having ridden a pipe for 5 years prior to this contest. But though they’ve doubtless still got it, some of those damned kids are just a bit too good.
Kelly Clark is damned good. Photo: Stadler.
As with the slopestyle, the men’s superpipe was a dramatic affair with the lead changing hands rapidly through the second runs. First Iouri Podladtchikov posted a beefy, super technical run only to be usurped by Mathieu Crepel who was clearly stoked with his efforts, then both these cats got the full fire of the ginger ninja Shaun White, who was looking for revenge after last year’s second place. Iouri stepped it up again in his final run to sit behind Shaun, putting down a frontside 900 tailgrab, backside 900 melon, frontside 1080 tailgrab, Cab 720 mute, ending things with a backside alley oop 540 indy. Kevin Pearce, who’d taken a beating on the last hit of his first run, looked to be out of the running, but after seeing Shaun’s final effort and knowing that he held the advantage of dropping last in the final round, he pulled out all the stops to stomp the day’s best run including an enormous frontside tailbone, his signature über-high McTwist, front 10, Cab 10 and stratosphere-scratching front 9. Not so many hits, but each one was beefcake and perfect. So Shaun had to settle for second, though he had ample consolation by winning the Volvo for his overall slopestyle/pipe performance. I wonder where he puts all these cars?
White, Pearce and I-Pod. Photo: Stadler.
After watching the semis, the women’s was basically a fight for second place unless Kelly Clark fell. Kjersti Buaas, having just sneaked in to the finals by a point or so, stepped it up and put down a great run that saw her in first… until Kelly dropped. She didn’t fall, took over the top spot and though Kjersti kicked on with a stronger run including a frontside inverted 720, a Cab 360 melon, frontside 540 Melon, double grab, ending with a melon to fakie, it was not enough to get close to Clark. Polish girl Paulina Ligocka had good enough height and a killer McTwist to see her claim third place. So Kelly stood at the top knowing she’d won and dropped in for her victory lap. Dropping last when you know your first run has nabbed you first usually results in a straight air fest. Not for Kelly. She stepped it up a notch further, seemingly only just holding it together on some hits, to produce the highest score of the day. What a run it was – monster back to back 7s, back to back 5s and finished off with a giant frontside air. Mad props Ms Clark, and thanks for the show. As with Shaun, Kjersti did enough over the week to bag the Volvo, ensuring the Norwegian had a smile on her face all the way home.
Jake was there to dish out the greenbacks.
So that wraps up the 10-year birthday bonanza Burton European Open from Laax, Switzerland. Epic conditions, epic riding, epic parties (hence, perhaps, the manflu) and epic people. Thanks to all the riders and organisers, and we’re raising a glass of Onboard bubbly to the next 10 years of Europe’s premiere contest.
Women’s Halfpipe Finals Results
1 Clark, Kelly (USA) BURTON 94.17
2 Oestgaard Buaas, Kjersti (NOR) ROXY 85.33
3 Ligocka, Paulina (POL) ROXY 81.17
Men’s Halfpipe Finals Results
1 Pearce, Kevin (USA) BURTON 95.50
2 White, Shaun (USA) BURTON 92.33
3 Podladtchikov, Iouri (SUI) VOLCOM 89.33
Women’s Slopestyle Finals Results
1 Wiik, Lisa (NOR) ROXY 75.83
2 Candrian, Sina (SUI) BURTON 75.67
3 Oestgaard Buaas, Kjersti (NOR) 72.67
Men’s Slopestyle Finals Results
1 Davis, Danny (USA) BURTON 91.17
2 Piiroinen, Peetu FIN BURTON 90.83
3 White, Shaun USA BURTON 90.33