VAIL - Next up in the first Vail installment of the 31st Burton U.S. Open is the men's and women's slopestyle finals today in Golden Peak.
Wednesday's semi finals proved exciting, with the top six women and top 12 men advancing to today's finals. These are the men and women who combined style, flow and big tricks better than the rest of the field, and there's no doubt they're going to put on a big show for the first Burton U.S. Open held in Vail.
For the women, Spencer O'Brien heads into today's competition with confidence after coming from behind in the semi final and finishing first overall after her second run. Behind O'Brien is Jamie Anderson, the Winter X Games gold medalist in slopestyle, followed by Brooke Voigt who placed third in the semi final.
The girls have generally enjoyed the course this week, reporting very technical rails and wall slides at the top followed by large jumps.
"It's really diverse, really creative and progressive. You definitely have to hold your speed for the whole upper section and into the first jump," Anderson said.
Voigt calls the course "really tight."
"It's a really fast course," Voigt said. "It's really hard to dial your speed for the features, but it's pretty fun."
Sixth-place semi final finisher Shelly Gotlieb said the girls are going to have to be precise to put down solid runs. She said the course has plenty of speed, but without the precision, it's easy to make little mistakes.
For the men, look out for Norwegian Torstein Horgmo, who put up the biggest score across both heats in Wednesday's semi final with 87.93 out of a possible 100 points. Heat two winner Eric Willett threw big jumps Wednesday - even after little sleep and major jet lag - and will also be one of the guy's to watch today.
Japanese rider Yuki Kadono, at just 16 years old, went huge during his first semi final run and threw down a frontside 9 (two full rotations) double cork on the first jump, a cab (switch-frontside spin) 12 (three-and-a-half rotations) on the second jump and a backside 10 (three full rotations) on the third jump. Those jumps and some stylish rail tricks were enough to put Kadono in second place for his heat, and third place overall going into the finals.
American Mark McMorris wants to put down two solid runs today and his confidence level is high after a solid second run on Wednesday. He changed a double backflip from his first run to a frontside 1080 double cork on his second run, securing his place in the final.
"I feel good about everything I want to do on Friday and I'm just happy that I'm for sure going to be there," he said after Wednesday's semi final.
With many of these riders often holding out during semi finals and only going as big as necessary to qualify for the final, expect massive amplitude and major tricks from both the men and the women in today's slopestyle finals.
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.