Sandbech, Anderson top slope semifinals
March 5, 2014
You know it's going to be a competitive slopestyle event when the riders are throwing triple corks in qualifiers.
The "triple," as it's called — three off-axis spins, 1440-degrees of rotation — made several appearances in Wednesday's slopestyle semifinals at the Burton U.S. Open. Last year's winner, Canadian Mark McMorris, says it was surprising to see.
"That didn't ever happen until the Olympics and I didn't think it would happen today," McMorris said after Wednesday's semi finals. "But that's what people are doing, and I'm ready to do it too I guess."
McMorris wasn't as clean as he could be in the top part of the course and finished ninth in the semifinals, good enough for finals, which is comprised of the top-ten men from semis. Stale Sandbech, of Norway, the silver medal winner from the Sochi Games, topped the field.
"It's a fresh start, it doesn't matter, no points carry over so I'm just going to go for it in the finals," McMorris said.
The course begins with a rail-slide section — a three-part behemoth that begins with an option of several huge rails and ends with a large, up-angled rail-gap jump onto another large, propane tank-like metal "pill" feature, known as the "Gap to Pill." McMorris said the rail section is what will separate the top-finishing competitors from the rest of the field in finals.
"It's gonna take really technical and smooth rail tricks, because the rail setup seems to have a lot of intensity to it, and definitely the judges are looking to see who can be technical on those burly rails," he said.
Vying for a top-six spot to make women's finals, first-place qualifier Jamie Anderson's front boardslide on the Gap to Pill set her apart from the rest of the field.
"I meant to just tap it, but I went a little bit too slow," she said.
The slower speed allowed Anderson to slide the feature, rather than a simpler "tap" of the pill.
"It's a really steep run, so it takes a little while to figure out your speed," she said. "The (gap to pill) was a little intimidating at first."
Anderson was the gold medal winner at slopestyle snowboarding's Olympic debut in Sochi, where she said it was her style that won the judges' favor.
"I don't necessarily like to just go do a crazy trick if it's not going to look good," she said. "I like to progress a little slower, and I really try to have solid board control on whatever I do."
Anderson, a South Lake Tahoe native, said here at the Burton U.S. Open she expects style will once again become a determining factor in finals.
"I think the Burton events are pretty core to style and making sure your riding looks good and with overall impression," she said.
In the men's finals, Anderson said she's excited to see what McMorris will bring to the table.
"He's got insane style and you never know what he's going to do," she said.
Despite suffering a broken rib at the X Games in January, McMorris went on to take bronze in Sochi and says now in Vail, he's feeling strong for finals.
"Over the past week I've just felt really solid and good," he said. "It's nice, (the U.S. Open) is a huge event but it's a little more laid back after the Olympics are done and we can just enjoy it for what it is. Everybody's stress free, the weather's great, the course rides fine and we're in Vail, so it's all smiles."