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Burton US Open comes to Vail this week

A rider spots his landing during the first day of training for the 2015 Burton U.S. Open in Vail on Monday. Events begin on Wednesday with the slopestyle semifinals in Golden Peak .
Townsend Bessent | Townsend@vaildaily.com |

Five facts

What: Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships.

Where/When: Vail, March 2 -7.

When is the halfpipe final? March 7.

Who’s streaming/broadcasting this? Fox Sports 2 and http://www.burton.com/USO.

VAIL — If you just came to Vail Feb. 1, or only come rarely, then the answer is no, we don’t have big-time athletic events absolutely all the time. This five-week stretch is special.

After the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships dominated the valley in the first half of February, the Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships will take up the first week of March. And yes, Vail’s going to be busy.

Sure to Dazzle

Until Saturday, Burton Snowboards will host dozens of the sport’s best, and best-known athletes in slopestyle and halfpipe who will dazzle in-person, TV and Web-streaming audiences. As you’d expect with a big-time event in the Vail Valley, the on-slope action at Golden Peak will be augmented by concerts. Performers include Andy Thorn & Friends, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Moon Hooch and Girl Talk.

There will be awards ceremonies, and Burton is hosting “Apres All Day” events at several bars in Vail Village, Golden Peak and Lionshead. New this year is a broomball tournament on the ice rink at Solaris.

Drawing People To Vail

The point, of course, is to draw people to Vail. And, while the first week of March is busy anyway, a couple of local merchants say Burton’s draw is both immediate and long-lasting. The crowds for the Burton event are also a bit different than the people who packed Solaris for the ski championships.

“For the (ski) championships, it was a lot of people following the events around the world,” said Tara Picklo, co-owner of Yeti’s Grind, a coffee shop in Solaris. Picklo added that the people who come to her store during the Burton events seem to be those who would probably come to Vail in different parts of the winter or summer, but decided to check out the snowboard action.

And Picklo, like other spectators, said she can only marvel at what the Burton athletes are able to do.

“I had a friend who was in the middle of the halfpipe the other day,” Picklo said. “It was really intimidating.”

Busy Is Good

Being in the center of off-slope action has meant a busy several weeks for the crew at Yeti’s. Because of the events, Picklo said there haven’t been as many lulls in the ski season, which usually has a number of peaks and valleys.

“We’re OK with that, though; (Burton) will really kick off the season’s final push,” Picklo said. Even with the big events of the past five weeks, though, Picklo said Yeti’s is still busier for the GoPro Mountains Games, the USA Pro Challenge cycling events and the Christmas holidays. Still, busy is good.

“We’re get a nice, consistent crowd all day, and then we have busy evenings,” Picklo said.

A couple of blocks away, Buzz Schleper expects a more gradual boost from Burton.

Schleper, owner of Buzz’s Boards, a longtime Vail Village ski and snowboard shop, said riders in town for the Burton event aren’t usually in market for new gear.

“We see a lot of people coming in with broken bindings or who need a tune,” he said.

But, Schleper said, people in the market for new gear do pay attention to what athletes are using.

“It isn’t so much the model as the brand,” Schleper said. “They see the name of the board and they want that.”

The brand identification is strong enough that Schleper said companies that aren’t sponsoring riders often don’t say in business very long.”

While sales at Buzz’s may not catch fire during the Burton event, Schleper said the long-term effects of events is noticeable, and lasting.

“We feel the effects for years,” Schleper said. “Vail is a more credible place for riders — (Burton) gets people to come. We can’t have enough events like this as far as I’m concerned.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, smiller@vaildaily.com and @scottnmiller.


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