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Colorado family creates snowboarding video from their driveway on Easter Sunday

As families across Colorado enjoyed a unique Easter on Sunday during COVID-19 restrictions, the Rodas family in Longmont celebrated fresh snowfall with an amazing stop-action snowboarding video in the driveway.

“While safe at home we are finding ways to do what we love,” Christelle Rodas posted along with the video on her Instagram page, an account mostly featuring her Burton Riglet-ambassador daughters Emma, 8, and Sophie, 6, as well as her husband, Conrad. “Since the girls started @trishazemp stop motion class, we had in mind to do a snowboarding video. We were just missing the snow, but today our wishes came through.”

The video was shot in less than an hour by drone, which captured 120 wide-angle photos over a two-battery span. Christelle said the editing took the longest. The stop-action video shows Emma hitting a “halfpipe,” throwing a “flip” and high-fiving her sister before a family shot.

“It was just a way to keep snowboarding and show people that they can still do things outside and have fun without going anywhere,” Christelle said. “We built it together.”

The Rodas family frequented Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone and Breckenridge this winter on their Epic passes, as well as Eldora on their Ikon passes. As ambassadors for Burton, they are regulars at the Burton US Open in Vail each year, and the video features a US Open foam hand.

The Instagram account — @christelle_rm — has over 10,000 followers and features other fun content, including Conrad on a bicycle pulling the girls on snowboards.

“We’re just trying to keep people shredding, I guess, while being inside and giving them ideas,” Christelle said.

The family recently went live on the Burton Facebook page to share ideas on things to do indoors with snowboards and kids. Christelle said the family didn’t snowboard until the girls gained interest, and it was the girls who showed interest in the stop-action video class. They’ve been experimenting with dolls, so the video in the driveway was their biggest production yet.

“The snow was here, and we love snowboarding,” she said. “We’ve been trying a couple of ways to keep having fun while at home.”

Follow @christelle_rm on Instagram for more content from the Rodas family.

Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2984 and rleonhart@vaildaily.com. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.

Shaun White no longer pursuing summer Olympics

If the world sees Shaun White at an Olympics again, it will be in 2022, not later this year.

The three-time snowboarding champion told The Associated Press that he is taking skateboarding off his plate and won’t try to qualify for that sport’s Olympic debut later this year in Tokyo.

“The decision became less about going for skate and more about, am I willing to walk away from snow?” White said this weekend while attending the Burton U.S. Open in Vail. “It just was going in that direction, and I didn’t feel comfortable with it and I can’t wholeheartedly choose this path with what I’ve got going on snow.”

White, who for years was every bit as successful a skateboarder as a snowboarder, had been dangling the possibility of joining the rare group of athletes to compete in both Winter and Summer Games.

He has long excelled in vert contests, which most resemble a snowboard halfpipe competition, but is not part of the Olympic program. He was trying to make the switch to park, which combine halfpipes and quarterpipes with stairs and rails. White headed to Brazil last summer to compete at skateboarding world championships, where he finished 13th.

He thought about it for a while and realized the work he’d have to put in to compete against full-time skateboarders for an Olympic spot would compromise his chances of returning to the Winter Games in Beijing for a shot at a fourth gold medal.

“It doesn’t mean I’m committed to going to China, but it doesn’t feel too far-fetched for me,” said the 33-year-old White. “I still feel great and that’s where it got left for me. I’m dipping back into snow, and doing what feels right.”

Jake Burton rides on in spirit at Burton US Open in Vail

The Burton US Open 2020 checked all the boxes we’ve come to expect from this event: exciting competition, fun concerts and a chance for snowboarders of all ages and skill levels to mingle with the pros during a week that never disappoints.

Nonetheless, one somber note remained present throughout the week. The passing of Jake Burton Carpenter, Burton’s founder and a true snowboarding pioneer, in November was not only present in our hearts and minds, it was etched on flags and posters, stickered on boards as well as helmets and mentioned in just about every interview, announcement and conversation throughout the week.

If any visitors did not know the story of Jake Burton Carpenter before showing up in Vail, they sure knew it before they left. The event, its sponsors and its host, Vail Mountain, all did a beautiful job of making sure of that.

Snowboarders get early start to Ride for Jake

Hundreds of riders gathered early Friday morning before the lifts opened to the public to participate in the Ride for Jake, where they rode up Gondola One to ride down Jake’s Stash — a trail that Vail Mountain dedicated specifically for the event. 

Shortly before dropping in, Burton CEO John Lacy and pro snowboarder Jack Mitrani got on the megaphone to share celebrations of life, snowboarding and Jake.

“This meant the world to him, to come to Vail and see everybody and celebrate a sport that he just continued to pioneer and push through,” Lacy said.

“We’re here to celebrate what he brings and to see this community make it happen,” Lacy said. “We have a responsibility to keep snowboarding alive and well, and he left it in our hands.”

“If there’s one thing that he taught me it’s just to be present in every situation and live life to the absolute fullest,” Mitrani told the group. “He gave us all the gift of snowboarding and this beautiful family. Just look around at this family that Jake and Donna have cultivated. We’re so lucky to have each other.”

As the herd of snowboarders made their way down the mountain, they were both led and followed by flag-bearers waving the “Ride on Jake” mantra that was an underlying theme throughout the week.  

In the middle of Saturday’s halfpipe finals, dozens of snowboarders poached the halfpipe in between runs — a fitting tribute to Jake. Yuto Totsuka, the halfpipe winner, said through a translator that he was in the middle of the poach and that it’s a memory he will never forget.

Ride on Jake Snowboarding Exhibit

While the Burton US Open’s competitions and festivities were concentrated mostly around Golden Peak and the main village, remembrances of Jake were on display across the mountain, reaching to its opposite end in Lionshead, where the Burton retail shop held the Ride On Jake Snowboard Exhibit.

The exhibit featured “iconic boards in Jake’s personal collection,” including classic shapes, some experimental models that didn’t see much production, all the way to modern models which drew inspiration from Burton’s history.

Memoirs of Jake Burton behind-the-scenes

Back in the media room, a poster displayed near the results table asks everyone to consider some questions about snowboarding and Jake. I’m going to try my best at these.

Describe the impact that snowboarding has had on your life:

Snowboarding is more than a hobby or even a passion; it’s a culture that has been particularly good to me. Some of my life’s best decisions are inextricably linked to snowboarding. It connected me to the mountains, inspired me to explore further and pushed me to seek adventure wherever it may be found.

Not only can snowboarding bring out the kid in me, it also helped guide my quest into adulthood. I may have never competed or had any breakthrough video parts, but I’ve still been able to build a fulfilling career and lifestyle that revolves around the sport. Fun fact: Snowboarding is how I got my first 401(k).

I grew up on the coast, but these mountains are my home. I have snowboarding, and Jake, to thank for that.

What do you think your life would be like without snowboarding?

Probably not as cool as this one.

Do you have a favorite memory of Jake at the US Open?

Jake was a legend who touched the lives of countless people, including many he never even met. I must confess that I am one of those people. So, I sought references from Red Gerard, Anna Gasser and Mark McMorris, who all knew him pretty well. All three had great memories to share.

“The most mandatory thing he would say to us is to have a good time and don’t let the contest sidetrack us from having a good time,” Gerard told me about Jake’s attitude in competitions, whether it be the US Open or the Olympics.

“He was just the best,” Gerard added.

“He was so open and friendly,” Gasser said as she recalled a fond memory of Jake showing the team how to use a rope swing behind his house. Gasser went outside of the competition aspect of the question to help show how personal Jake’s relationship was with all his riders. “He opened his house to all of his riders,” Gasser said.

McMorris also shared memories outside of competition, showing that the great moments the two shared went well beyond what happened in front of the judges.

“Once in a lifetime opportunities every time you were with him,” McMorris said. “I was in Switzerland with him over the summer and one day he was just like ‘dude we have to skydive’ … so like boom, we went skydiving three hours later.”  

“He was a dear friend of mine and treated me like gold, I will always be appreciative of that,” he added. “To even live in an era where a guy like that was still alive and to be friends with him and to share ideas … his legacy will live on forever, so I am super thankful to be a part of that.”

If you could give Jake one message right now, what would you say?

I’m not sure anyone really gets the chance to see the full impact they’ve had on the world while still living in it. Though we’ve never met, Jake, I know that if you saw what I saw this past week, then you would have, at minimum, a glimpse of the impact you had during your time here. You’ve truly inspired us all.

Thank you Jake, and ride on.

Digital engagement editor Sean Naylor can be reached at snaylor@vaildaily.com. Follow him on Instagram @vail_naylzz.

Pro playlists: What Burton US Open snowboarders listen to while competing

Have you ever wondered what the world’s best slopestyle snowboarders are listening to as they drop into the Burton US Open course during the finals?

“I listen to music before the comp, but I cannot listen to music [during competition],” said Anna Gasser, who finished second in women’s slopestyle at the 38th annual Burton US Open, the eighth year it’s been in Vail. “I want to hear everything around me.”

Jamie Anderson earned her eighth Burton US Open title this year, finishing first in women’s slopestyle.

“Ya, I don’t really want to hear anything around me,” the Beats by Dre-sponsored athlete said. “I was listening to ‘Gangsta’s Paradise,’ an old song on an old playlist because I haven’t had time to make a new playlist.”

Anderson added that she’s a big fan of “old school rap,” including Bone Thugs N Harmony.

Giddy up, giddy up — move out.

View this post on Instagram

Music makes me happy 💙 @beatsbydre

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‘I like to hear the air’

Japanese rider Yuki Kadono won the men’s slopestyle at this year’s Burton US Open. He answered most of his post-comp questions through a translator, who said that he listens to music both in practice and competition.

“I listen,” Kadono said on his own, “to Travis Scott.”

Kadono’s winning run Friday indeed left some goosebumps.

Dusty Henricksen, who stunned the snowboarding world with a backside quadruple cork 1800 to solidify second place in men’s slopestyle, was listening to some “mellow rap, SoundCloud stuff,” he said.

“I definitely love music when I’m riding,” Henricksen said, “but I don’t always have it, so I just cruise if I don’t have it.”

Red Gerard, who finished third in men’s slopestyle, dropped in without headphones.

“When I snowboard in the contest, I like to hear the air and the wind and see what’s going on,” he said.

Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2984 and rleonhart@vaildaily.com. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.

Yuto Totsuka wins modified halfpipe at Burton US Open; Jan Scherrer lands rare alley oop 900 for 2nd

Yuto Totsuka earned his first-ever Burton US Open win on Friday, and Jan Scherrer landed the first-ever alley-oop 900 in a modern snowboarding contest to finish second.

An alley-oop spin takes the rider back up the halfpipe, and can be especially difficult to perfect as the normal rotation sends the rider down the pipe.

Defending champion Scotty James finished third to share the podium with Scherrer for the first time in more than a decade.

James said that while he was disappointed with his third-place finish, he was impressed with the level of snowboarding from Totsuka and Scherrer. Totsuka landed a switch backside 1080, a switch frontside 1260, and a frontside 1440 in the contest. While the switch backside rotation was once rarely seen in the halfpipe, James has helped to make it a must-include rotation in any winning run, and on Saturday, Scherrer reminded everyone that alley-oop rotations add four more possibilities to the halfpipe, as well.

James said he was with Scherrer when he landed the alley-oop 900 for the first time, during a practice session in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.

“It was one of the best things I had ever seen,” James said. “That’s up there with the switch backside, it’s terrifying, and to do it the way Jan did it today, absolute credit to him.”

Evolution of tricks

While no one in attendance had ever seen an alley-oop 900 landed in a modern halfpipe contest, Scherrer said he has seen fellow Swiss snowboarder Markus Keller land one.

“We were shooting for a movie,” Scherrer said. “He did it like eight years ago.”

Scherrer said the trick is something you’re more likely to see a skier attempt in the 22-foot halfpipe. In 2017, halfpipe skier Taylor Seaton became the first athlete to ever land back-to-back alley-oop 900s during a contest.

“The hardest part about doing bigger alley-oop spins is you can’t stop the rotation afterward,” Scherrer said. “There’s probably more skiers doing it because they have two edges, so they can kind of stop rotation.”

In a text message, Seaton guessed, correctly, that Scherrer had performed the trick on his last hit.

“It was better to do it at the end,” Scherrer confessed.

Nevertheless, “I’m so impressed,” Seaton wrote. “I can’t imagine doing an oop 9 and landing with only one edge.”

James said he would like to see snowboarding’s progression go the direction of more alley-oop and switch backside spins. The gold and silver medal runs from the 2018 Olympics did not contain switch backside or alley-oop rotation.

“I think the evolution of tricks is heading in a healthy direction,” James said.

Full results

  1. Yuto Totsuka
  2. Jan Scherrer
  3. Scotty James
  4. Patrick Burgener
  5. Joey Okesson
  6. Jake Pates
  7. Danny Davis
  8. Shuichiro Shigeno
  9. Chase Blackwell
  10. Rakai Tait

Xuetong Cai wins women’s halfpipe finals at Burton US Open; Matsumoto and Tomita podium

A Chinese athlete topped the podium for the first time ever in snowboarding’s longest-running competition, the Burton US Open, Saturday in Vail.

And with China preparing to make its debut as a winter sports haven at the 2022 Winter Olympics, the country appears to be peaking at the right moment.

Xuetong Cai has been competing in snowboarding for 15 years, long before China voiced interest in hosting the Olympics.

Since then, she has seen the sport grow to a level in China where there are junior team athletes competing, a social media scene where pictures and videos of snowboarders are being shared frequently, and mountains where recreational snowboarders are a common sight.

It’s getting there,” she said following her win on Saturday. “I think it’s going to get there; because of the Olympics now it’s growing, snowboarding in China, you can see it in the mountains.”

For Cai, the Burton US Open win is the ultimate achievement, she said.

“It’s the title I’ve always wanted,” she said.

‘It’s not going to stop’

While a win at the most historic snowboarding competition in the Burton US Open solidifies the country’s status as a serious snowboarding nation, Cai’s win isn’t the first big splash for China.

In 2018, Chinese snowboarder Jiayu Liu earned the Olympic silver medal with her impressive halfpipe performance. It was the first winter Olympics medal for China.

Liu was also at the Burton US Open this year but opted out of the competition. She said the growth of the sport since her 2018 podium finish has been surreal to see.

“It’s just getting bigger numbers, every year, all the time, and it’s not going to stop, because we have so many people in China,” she said. “All the students, all the kids, everybody goes on snow, so that’s a cool thing to see.”

Yiwei Zhang and the triple

On the men’s side, China’s Yiwei Zhang also made a name for himself at the Burton US Open in 2014, when he was the top-performing athlete in semifinals. He didn’t land a run in finals, though, finishing 10th. Zhang continued to impress in the years to come, finishing runner-up to Scotty James at the 2015 World Championships and becoming the first person to ever put a triple cork to his feet later that season.

Finnish physiotherapist Tiitu Romar has been working with the Chinese team and said the progression of the athletes has been impressive to watch. Romar said Zhang is taking some time off but has all intentions of competing at the 2022 Olympics.

Romar was busy this week in Vail nonetheless, with both Cai and up-and-coming Chinese athlete Shaotong Wu making finals.

Romar said Jiayu Liu and Xuetong Cai are inspiring a new generation of snowboarders.

“They’re both really good at helping the younger girls in the pipe,” Romar said. “They both do an awesome job supporting these younger girls.”

Below is the full list of winners:

  1. Xuetong Cai
  2. Haruna Matsumoto
  3. Ruki Tomita
  4. Mitsuki Ono
  5. Maddie Mastro
  6. Shaotong Wu

Saturday’s schedule of events at the Burton U.S. Open

Ladies in snowboarding, today’s your chance to shine. The women’s ride starts off the day before the halfpipe finals. There’s also a ride with the Burton team, and EVAN GIIA and Big Wild for entertainment at night.

Sponsor Village

When: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Where: Vail Village

Cost: Free

Women’s Ride

When: 10 – 11:30 a.m.

Where: Meet at the Burton Pop-Up Shop in Golden Peak

Cost: Free

Halfpipe Finals

When: Women at 11 a.m., men at 2 p.m.

Where: Golden Peak

Cost: Free

Ride with the Burton Team

When: 1-2 p.m.

Where: Meet at the Burton Pop-Up Shop in Golden Peak

Cost: Free

Fireworks with the Carpenter Family

When: 7:45 p.m.

Where: Solaris Concert Stage, Solaris Plaza

Cost: Free

UNOFFICIAL: Shut the Funk Up Silent Disco

When: 9 p.m.-midnight

Where: Mountain Art Collective

Cost: $35

More information: The first silent disco staged by new local company Vail Valley Silent Discos, this event brings a new kind of fun to the Burton U.S. Open weekend in Vail. Mountain Art Collective’s parties are well-attended and very fun.

UNOFFICIAL: Bol After Party with Gavlak

When: 9:30 p.m. – 1 a.m.

Where: Bol, Solaris Plaza

Cost: $10

More information: Located less than 50 feet from the concert stage, Bol’s parties are open for guests 21 and up.

Burton U.S. Open Closing Party with music from DJ Cre8, 99 Neighbors, J Espinosa      

When: 10 p.m. – 1 a.m.

Where: Dobson Ice Arena

Cost: Free

View the full schedule of events here.

Scotty James: Winnings at Burton in Vail will help workers in Australia for brushfire animal rescue

While the brushfires were raging in Australia, Scotty James was in Switzerland, feeling helpless as reports came that more than 1 billion animals had been killed.

“It was pretty tough, watching it,” he said.

James made a quick decision to donate a portion of his contest winnings to help people who are trying to rescue and look after any surviving animals. With a goal of $50,000 set, a good finish at the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships in Vail on Saturday could get him there.

“I hope it helps,” he said.

Competitive spirit

In starting up the fundraising effort, James said he also found an extra purpose to keep a strong competitive spirit.

“It sounds kind of silly, because what we do is amazing, and I’m very grateful, and it’s always an awesome experience,” James said. “but wanting to win all the time isn’t always a huge motivation. … For me, where I’m at now, having something a little bit more than just the win to ride for, getting the opportunity to give back a little bit more has made me push even harder to obviously want to win or do really well at these competitions.”

James has won just about everything over the last couple of years, notching wins at all the big events including X Games, the Dew Tour and the Burton US Open, where he enters Saturday’s halfpipe finals as the defending champion.

He said he’s also been inspired by the people who have offered to help him contribute to the fund.

“I saw so many amazing donations from people who, I don’t even know if they’ve been to Australia before,” he said. “A lot of people have the same mutual love for animals, and it was just devastating — it didn’t really matter where you came from.”

‘Two complete extremes’

And in an era where the internet can be both a gift and a curse, James said he realized that social media can be a good thing when properly deployed.

“I’m not a huge advocate for a lot of social media things: I think it can be quite a toxic environment for people to be too indulged in all the time,” James said. “But when athletes and people with a lot of credibility on social media can actually use their platform as a way to share stories or get support for things like the Australian bushfires … I think it’s very cool.”

James said his social media followers can expect similar efforts from him in the future.

“In Australia we had the worst bushfires we ever had, and then a week later we had the worst flash floods we ever had, and people like my parents were sending me pictures of smashed windows from golf ball-sized hailstones falling down from the sky, two complete extremes,” he said. “I think it’s important to be conscious about what we are doing to the Earth, because in those situations it’s devastating because it’s talking back and trying to tell us that we’re slowly ruining it, and we sit here and get devastated about these things and I think we can make a difference. We can all make a difference, for sure. It doesn’t have to be anything huge either: Any little thing can help.”

Burton US Open 2020: How to snowboard to the halfpipe viewing area

Vail Daily’s Ross Leonhart shows Burton US Open spectators how to snowboard to the halfpipe viewing area for Saturday’s finals. The women’s competition is at 11am; men compete at 2pm.

Yuki Kadono wins men’s slopestyle at Burton US Open in Vail; Dusty Henricksen earns second with quad cork 1800

Yuki Kadono reprised his winning role from 2015 in Vail on Friday with the same closing salvo at the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships.

Kadono landed a switch backside 1620 off the final jump on the Golden Peak slopestyle course, the same trick that earned him his first US Open victory five years ago.

Dusty Henricksen also stunned the snowboarding world with a backside quadruple cork 1800 that solidified his second-place position.

Silverthorne resident Red Gerard finished third, landing a switch backside 1440.

‘What’s another flip?’

The many professional snowboarders in attendance, who stormed Henricksen and tackled him in the finish coral when he landed the quad cork, had discussed technicality of the tricks on the final jump.

But a full slopestyle run is much more than its final jump, and Kadono had a higher degree of difficulty, and rotation, in several of the tricks leading up to the big finish. While Henricksen spun in three of the four directions a snowboarder can spin, Kadono spun in all four. Henricksen did not perform the difficult switch backside rotation, while Kadono included two switch backside tricks in his run. Kadono also managed to perform a 1260-degree spin on one of the course’s quarterpipe-style “side hits,” while Henricksen opted for 900-degree rotations on the side hits.

Watching from the judges booth, 2018 slopestyle champion Mark McMorris assumed, correctly, that Henricksen’s near-completion of his first attempt on the quad cork was his first time ever trying the trick.

Henricksen told McMorris he was right, and the reason he chose the backside 1800-degree rotation over a 1620-degree rotation was to avoid landing switch after such a heavily spun trick.

“So I figured, what’s another flip?” Henricksen said.

Gerard said he understood completely.

“Going back 16, you kind of fall into a couch position if you over-rotate, and it can be pretty painful,” Gerard said.

“I don’t know if I agree, but he said it’d be easier to do four flips,” Gerard added, with a laugh.

Gerard did opt for a switch landing in his final trick, in a trick that’s also spun in the switch backside rotation, making the whole trick a switch effort.

“I don’t think I’m going to ever do that trick,” Henricksen said of Gerard’s switch backside 1440. “It’s super-gnarly.”

Mellow vibes

For Henricksen, who is 17 years old, the 2020 US Open was a much different experience than that of Gerard and Kadono, who have both won US Open titles in the past.

Henricksen said that despite the fact that the competition is tougher at the US Open, his most difficult contest of the season was not the US Open, but rather an event where athletes older than 18 are not allowed to compete.

In January, Henricksen won gold at the 2020 Youth Olympic Games, an International Olympic Committee sanctioned event designed to provide a younger replica of the traditional Olympic Games experience.

“I think the run I did there was harder than here,” he said following Friday’s competition in Vail. “The course was way different, super-flat landings.”

While that was a breakout moment for Henricksen, the performance wasn’t one the larger world of snowboarding would witness.

Flash forward to Friday, when Henricksen found himself amid the entirety of the professional slopestyle community, in an encouraging and relaxed atmosphere.

“I’m just riding with the boys,” he said. “It’s pretty mellow vibes, so how can you get too scared?”

Gerard said that’s the atmosphere Jake Burton Carpenter hoped to create when he started the Burton US Open in 1982.

“This year was definitely one of the best years, everyone’s whole vibe was having fun and remembering Jake,” Gerard said. “I think that his No. 1 thing was to have the best time, and I think that’s why he created the Open.”

Results from Friday’s slopestyle finals:

  1. Yuki Kadono
  2. Dusty Henricksen
  3. Red Gerard
  4. Darcy Sharpe
  5. Hiroaki Kunitake
  6. Torgeir Bergrem
  7. Staale Sandbech
  8. Sven Thorgren
  9. Judd Henkes
  10. Sebe DeBuck