Human touch applied to Burton US Open art this year |

Human touch applied to Burton US Open art this year

Burton designers Dan Romanelli and Lucy Prouty stand in front of Chair 6 in Golden Peak, which is adorned in Prouty's hand as she custom lettered all the artwork associated with the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships in 2018.
Chris Dillmann | |

Rule 40 as an art project

While the Burton U.S. Open is proud of the fact that many of the top riders taking part in the event will be riding Burton brand snowboards, you won’t notice their logo on the bottom of those boards in the posters and pamphlets around town.

Because the brand’s town takeover began during the Olympics this year, Burton — in trying to act in strict accordance with the Olympics’ anti-advertising effort known as “Rule 40” — decided it would be best not to have their name in a poster next to a snowboarder who was in the Olympics and also riding their snowboard in the poster.

“We wanted to block out the brand name, and it happened to work with the doodles in our design anyway,” said Burton Lead Designer Dan Romanelli.

In a twist of dark comedy, the rider featured in those posters — Danny Davis — crashed hard in the final Olympic qualifier of the season and didn’t end up making it to Pyeongchang.

“As it turned out, we didn’t need to (block out the graphics),” Romanelli said. “But I kind of like how it looks.”

Burton’s team of designers set an annual goal for their week in Vail — use art to transform the town into a U.S. Burton Open Snowboarding Championship theme park.

This year, you may have noticed more of a human touch in that art.

You’ll see scores of examples all over Vail, in doodles on signs in town and in drawings of trees and mountains on posters and billboards throughout the village.

The hand-scrawled sketches are inspired by the markers travelers left for each other along a popular route through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal known as “The Hippie Trail” in the 1960s and ’70s.

One of the largest examples of the human touch applied to this year’s art is the hashtag #BurtonUSOpen written in a woman’s hand, using gigantic letters, above Chair 6 in Golden Peak.

“I wrote it in about 10 minutes,” said designer Lucy Prouty of the lettering that is sure to become the most recognizable script of the weekend. “It’s meant to be more free and less thematic.”


The less thematic touch is apparent in much of the artwork.

Following last year’s Burton U.S. Open — which was the contest’s fifth year in Vail following three decades on the east coast — the proving period for the event seemed to be over. Hotel lodging was at 96 percent that week, compared to an average of 80 percent before Burton came to town, and the town of Vail went on to commit nearly half a million dollars to this year’s event.

From an artistic standpoint, it was a chance for a rebuild. Designers got to work on the 2018 art right after the 2017 event.

“It’s not that we repeat from year to year, but we definitely went for something more organic, more human this year,” Prouty said.

Prouty’s first chance to see her work in real life came when she exited the interstate in Vail on Sunday, March 4. The Burton U.S. Open flags in the roundabout welcomed her to town.

“I thought it looked fresh,” she said.


Lead designer Dan Romanelli said the event’s logo — known as the U.S. Open bolt — has been established as an identity image.

“Every year we try to do something to bring the logo into the vibe for that year,” he said. “This year it was Lucy going through and hand-drawing it.”

Also new for this year, find a larger-than-life version of that U.S. Open bolt in Slifer Square, near the Covered Bridge.

“We’re hoping people pose for pictures next to it,” he said.

If you get a shot of yourself withe massive object, use the hashtag #BurtonUSOpen in your social media posts. Prouty’s handwritten hashtag reminder adorns posters and props around town.

The irony of a handwritten hashtag was not lost on the designers, Romanelli said with a laugh.

“As a reminder for people to use the hashtag, it works,” he said.

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