Jamie Anderson tops slopestyle semifinals
VAIL — By now, the competitors at the Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships are used contending with snowy conditions on the slopestyle course. It has snowed every year the event has been in Vail, but never enough to cancel a competition. Until Wednesday.
After getting in a good practice session under clear blue skies in the morning, the women took to the slopestyle course — a collection of rails and jumps on Golden Peak in Vail — with relatively few issues in their first run of two.
The top qualifier for the women was Jamie Anderson, whose first run was highlighted by a boardslide and tailslide on the rails and a 540 and 720 on the jumps. With the rest of the field not coming within eight points of Anderson’s first run on the 100-point scoring scale, a second run wasn’t necessary for Anderson, set to go last from her leader’s position. That worked out well for her, as the weather was starting to turn.
“It did get a little windy on that second run,” Anderson told reporter Trisha Byrnes as the women’s semifinal came to a close.
Finland’s Enni Rukajarvi, who was the final qualifier to make the cut in sixth place, called the conditions downright scary on her second run.
“There was wind, and it wasn’t the same all the time, it was changing uphill and downhill, so you didn’t know if you were going too far or come up short,” she said.
‘LET’S WAIT UNTIL FRIDAY’
By the time the men got on course, conditions had become pretty bad. Blowing snow, changing winds from jump to jump and poor visibility combined to create unridable conditions on the slopestyle course, and after one weather delay, officials (under advisement of the riders themselves,) called it off.
“I woke up, looked outside and it looked really nice,” said Stale Sandbech, who finished second in slopestyle at both the Olympics and the Burton U.S. Open last year. “I was pumped to ride in bluebird because it’s been kind of snowy the last couple days, but then the wind picked up and the weather came in and got worse and worse.”
Men’s defending champion Mark McMorris said he was relieved it was canceled.
“That’s what needs to happen when the weather comes in,” he said. “Instead of putting us in a super dangerous situation, like it could have been today, and might have been in the past at some events, it was cool of Burton and the U.S. Open to say ‘OK, the weather is dangerous. Let’s wait till Friday and have a good show.’”
The men’s field will compete in slopestyle finals as scheduled on Friday, with two runs instead of three and no qualification process.
“You can take it as a positive and just go out there tomorrow and practice one run,” McMorris said. “You don’t have to worry about a qualifying run, just practice your best run you can do and try to do that Friday.”
There will be two slopestyle practice sessions today as halfpipe semifinals get underway. One is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and another is scheduled from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.