March Madness: Snowboarding

For some, March represents basketball championships or the start of baseball season. For others, it is the end to snowboarding season. This year marked the 30th anniversary of the Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships. From March 4-11 the best boarders flocked to Stratton Mountain. “The Open has come a long way since we used an upside down kitchen table as a starting gate,” said Jake Burton Carpenter, the founder of Burton Snowboards.

The event is held at Stratton Mountain Resort and has been held there since 1985. The slopestyle and halfpipe competitions occur on the Sun Bowl side of the mountain. The Sunrise Express chairlift gives a bird’s eye view of the competition. In honor of the 30th anniversary of the US Open, the snowboarding legends from way back when competed old-school style in the ‘Washed Up Cup’, a timed event that ties in freestyle elements with a gated, GS-style course. The ‘Washed Up Cup’ took place on the original Suntanner run, giving everyone a taste of the original Opens.

The finals took place on Friday, March 9th, Saturday, the 10th, and Sunday, the 11th. In the Junior Jam competition, Ayumu Hirano from Japan came in first for the boys and Chloe Kim from the US came in first for girls. The talented American, Jamie Anderson, age 21, took first in the Women’s Slopestyle Finals with a score of 90.1, over ten points higher than that of second place. Her style was sleek and her run unbeatable. In the Men’s Slopestyle, the 19-year-old Canadian, Sebastien Touant won first with 92 points, having received ten points more than the second place winner. Sebastien and Jamie each received $25,000 in prize money.

American Elena Hight, 22, stole first in the Women’s Halfpipe with a score of 86.5, only 0.31 points ahead of second place winner Kelly Clark. Elena broke fellow American Kelly Clark’s 16-competition winning streak while landing an impressive trick she’d been having difficulty with all season. The third of a point difference between first second was a tough call. Ellery Hollingsworth, USA, came in third. The Flying Tomato, Shaun White, 25, won first place in the Men’s Halfpipe by 1.06 points over Louie Vito. Vito and third place winner Benji Farrow, both Americans also had good runs, but Shaun came on strong. He opened with a method, frontside double cork 1080 stalefish, Cab double cork 1080 melon, frontside inverted 540 stalefish, backside double McTwist 1260 ending things with an alley oop backside rodeo. Shaun and Elena each received $25,000 in prize money.

In addition to the US Open halfpipe and slopestyle titles, several other major awards were given out, some were the 2012 Burton Global Open Series titles, the Creative Use of Space awards presented by MINI, and the first ever Nokia Rookie Award worth $5000 each. When not watching the action or awards, people walked around the Stratton Sun Bowl lodge where each of the sponsors had a tent and lots of product samples. Sponsors included Burton, Stratton, Mini, Nokia, Mountain Dew, Paul Mitchell, Contour, Thinsulate, Shiseido, Anon, Red Protection, Analog, Gravis and more. The Open’s closing is a nice way to spend a weekend. Watching the events is free and you get a lot of free gifts from the sponsors.

This year’s 30th Open was fantastic and the perfect end to the 2012 season with exceptional weather, strong riders, and a great atmosphere. There are high hopes for next year, which will surely be just as entertaining.