Burton U.S. Open snowboarders are loving Vail
VAIL — Sure, it snows during their competition every year. But that’s just one of the many reasons the athletes at the Burton U.S. Open are loving the event’s new home here in Eagle County after moving from Vermont in 2013.
In the news conference following the women’s slopestyle finals on Friday, podium finishers Jamie Anderson, Anna Gasser and Spencer O’Brien couldn’t help but bring the conversation back to Vail.
“Here and X Games are the only two places where, when you roll into town you actually see the course from the road,” O’Brien said. “I always like that, having that first look. It gets you really excited.”
Anderson echoed the statement.
“I love it, coming into town and seeing the layout with the pipe right there and the giant jumps, you always get motivated.”
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Constructed by Snow Park Technologies, the course has become something of an instant classic here in Vail for the short time it lives on the bottom of Ruder’s Run at Golden Peak.
“I call it Golden Peaks during the Burton U.S. Open,” says the son of the Ruder’s Run namesake, Vail native Bob Ruder. “Because those jumps are just three massive peaks that you can see from anywhere.”
Gasser said from a rider standpoint, you can’t beat it.
“It’s always such a good course and so fun to ride,” she said on Friday. “I just enjoy riding here, and I also like being in Vail a lot.”
‘It’s So Lively Here’
Anderson also says the town itself is a big part of why she loves coming to the Burton U.S. Open.
“I loved it out east, because that’s where my grandparents are,” said Anderson, who notched multiple wins in both venues. “But the difference in Vail is it’s so lively here. Everyone is out and about, and the whole village and the venue is beautiful. I feel, like, honored to come here and I’m pretty much on vacation all week.”
The top qualifier in today’s men’s halfpipe, Ben Ferguson of Bend, Oregon, also loves the vacation feel here in Vail.
“There’s lots of good restaurants, lots of good parties, everything is super chic,” he said. “It’s nice to come and ball out for a little bit, you get the VIP access, and usually it’s spring conditions out here — slushy and fun.”
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.