VAIL — Mark McMorris prefers a competition that gives snowboarders three chances to land a good run in finals, but he only needed two on Friday.
The Canadian slopestyle snowboarder was able to defended his crown at the Burton U.S. Open by completing a difficult run in difficult conditions — landing a wildcat (cartwheel-style) backflip off the second rail feature, and a “triple cork” (three times inverted) 1440-degree spin as snow fell on the landing of the final jump on the Golden Peak course.
“I was going to do that run if there was the best weather in the world,” McMorris said. “To do it in really tough conditions meant a little bit more to me. I’m really happy.”
Second-place Stale Sandbech, of Norway, said Snow Park Technologies’ design on the Golden Peak course contributed to the good performances in the tough conditions.
“They built the course good, so it worked out in bad weather as well,” Sandbech said following the competition. “We were still able to do our best.”
Sandbech, who also placed second at the Olympics in February, finished only three tenths of a point behind McMorris in the competition, which is judged on a 100-point scale. Sandbech also landed a triple cork on the final jump, but did it with slightly less amplitude, which may have resulted in the point difference.
“If there was a way I could have maybe gotten a higher score, I don’t know,” Sandbech said. “I wanted to get one step higher, but Mark rode so well.”
‘IN MY DREAMS, DANNY ALWAYS WINS’
The Burton U.S. Open marks the final contest of the season for McMorris, who plans on celebrating his success on the beach in Hawaii next week.
McMorris said it’s been a difficult season for him, between breaking a rib at the X Games in January and the emotional roller coaster that followed, as he questioned whether he’d be well enough to be competitive at the Olympics.
“I’ve had some crazy ups and downs this season,” he said. “Before I dropped in (for the last run, a “victory lap” that didn’t affect the standings), I was just like ‘Thank you, Lord, that this season is over.’”
McMorris said while in Vail, he’s looking forward to watching the mens’ halfpipe finals at the Open, set to begin at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
“I had a dream that Danny (Davis) won, but then I woke up and got sad because he didn’t make it,” McMorris said. “In my dreams, Danny always wins. But I hope one of the Fergusons win, it’d be really cool to see them on the podium.”
The men’s halfpipe finals will be preceded by the women’s finals, set to begin at 11:30 a.m.