Top qualifier is also youngest to make men’s finals in Vail at Burton US Open slopestyle
Thirty-two riders competed Wednesday for one of 10 finalist positions for the Burton US Open 2020 Men’s Slopestyle competition.
Flat light and windy conditions added some difficulty for the riders as the competition progressed, especially at the top section of the slopestyle course.
Many of the top men struggled on the hard-to-see landings, leaving some familiar names, and past champions, out of finals.
With four-time US Open champion Mark McMorris landing a clean run, yet failing to make finals, some covering the event suggested a changing of the guard moment may be underway in men’s slopestyle. As further evidence of the claim, the top qualifier for Friday’s finals will also be the youngest competitor in Friday’s finals.
Dusty Henricksen, 17, also won the Youth Olympic Games earlier this season, a competition which only allows athletes 18 and younger.
“I’m in a dream right now,” Henricksen said after earning the top qualifying spot on Wednesday. “This is definitely a dream come true.”
Other teenagers to make finals include 18-year-old Judd Henkes, 18 year-old Hiroaki Kunitake and 19-year-old Red Gerard.
Gerard, who won the event last year, qualified ninth of the 10 total male athletes to advance to Friday’s final. He said he was just happy to not be 10th, as that person has to take on the course first on Friday. Gerard found himself in 10th position before his final run on Wednesday, but managed to move up one spot by landing an un-natural or “switch” backside 1440, spinning blind in the most challenging of the four directions one can spin while negotiating both the take-off and the landing in the switch stance.
“I was very fired up,” Gerard said of the trick. “That was the first one I’ve done that felt really good. I’m really hyped on landing that.”
Qualifiers in men’s slopestyle:
- Dusty Henrickson
- Darcy Sharpe
- Staale Sandbech
- Yuki Kadono
- Judd Henkes
- Sven Thorgren
- Hiroaki Kunitake
- Sebbe DeBuck
- Red Gerard
- Torgeir Bergrem
Finals will take place Friday, February 28th at 2:00 p.m.