Kadono, Anderson top slopestyle comp
VAIL — It was a history-making run for Mark McMorris at the 33rd annual Burton U.S. Open. But the way things are progressing these days, it was only good enough for second place behind Japan’s Yuki Kadono.
After landing back-to-back triple cork 1440s on the final two jumps of the slopestyle course on Friday, McMorris (who has won competition here in 2013 and 2014) was happy heading into the last of three runs in finals.
“It feels good,” he said after landing his second run, one of the best of his life. “It was only my third time landing a frontside triple cork, and I’ve never tried it in a slopestyle comp.”
Last year at the Burton U.S. Open, McMorris had the best slopestyle run already in the books by the time the third and final run came around. He used the third run as a victory lap, harkening back to the sole of snowboarding by performing huge method airs off the jump rather than the typical flips and spins. He said multiple times in interviews leading up to the event that he was hoping to be in the same situation this year heading into the final run. But 19-year-old Kadono had other plans.
“I was looking forward to this competition,” Kadono said, through the aid of a translator, following the event. “I know there are much better riders who are much better than me, but I just had it set in my mind that I was going to win this contest.”
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Also set in Kadono’s mind was the run itself, where he knew he was capable of performing back-to-back 1620s after nearly over-rotating a 1440-degree spin on the final jump of his first run. The landing was hard, and the impact could be felt by anyone who witnessed it, including McMorris. Although he found his feet and landed clean, the impact was so hard it actually caused Kadono to chip a tooth, he said.
“He must have legs of steel,” McMorris said of Kadono landing the trick.
HORGMO NOT FEELING IT
Kadono wasn’t the only competitor who had a problem with going too big. Slopestyle legend Torstein Horgmo said he was having similar issues.
“It’s hard to gauge the speed with the headwind right now,” Horgmo told reporter Tricia Byrnes. “The course is fun, but the landings are too flat to send it right now.”
Horgmo finished seventh, but the first trick of his first run — a switch backside hardway 270 to regular on the rail — was without a question the best trick in the rails section of the course, earning a 9.7 out of 10 from the judges on that feature. In the remainder of his runs, Horgmo didn’t appear to have the same determination as he showed in that first hit.
“I just wasn’t feeling it,” he told Byrnes. “Then I saw Mark’s run and I thought he’s got this; it’s all good.”
Horgmo was among a huge gallery who was stunned to see Kadono one-up McMorris.
“I’m totally stoked to be up here with these two boys,” a seemingly stunned Tyler Nicholson said after finishing third. “Mark was such an influence on me, growing up, watching him.”
Kadono said of all his influences, one man is on his mind most when he rides: Japan’s Keiji Okamoto.
“Right now, due to an accident, his lower body is paralyzed,” Kadono said following the event. “So since that incident, I’ve been pretty much riding for him, and all I have on my mind is for him to get better.”
FOR THE MANY FANS
For some, the event was an opportunity to show skills and style in a more unorthodox fashion. Brage Richenberg, of Norway, after making a mistake in the top part of his run, took the opportunity to stun the crowd by carving around the last jump and performing with a double wildcat (two aerial cartwheel-syle flips) off the crest of the downslope, called the knuckle.
“He loves it when he messes up his run, because he gets to show off that amazing feat off the knuckle,” announcer Henry Jackson said with a laugh after the contest.
Seppe Smits, of Belgium, after kissing his chances of a good run goodbye on the upper section of the course, showed off his switch method on the 65-foot final jump. The switch method is a trick that has helped Danny Davis win halfpipe competitions, but it has yet to make its way into serious slopestyle competition.
And in a classic homage to the U.S. Open’s roots in Stratton, Vermont, semifinalists Nik Baden, Sebbe DeBuck and Darcy Sharpe poached a run out of turn between runs for the enjoyment of the many spectators on hand. A busy Friday it was, as both parking structures in Vail were full by 10:40 a.m. Nearly 400 cars spilled over onto the frontage roads.
ANDERSON DEFENDS TITLE
On the women’s side, Jamie Anderson topped the podium again this year — her fourth slopestyle win at the Burton U.S. Open. But that’s just one of the things she’s excited about right now.
“The course is awesome this year,” she said after the win on Friday. “When I saw Spencer stomp her back 9 I got really excited, and then Anna tried the cab 9 and pretty much stomped it, just bounced a little. It was so inspiring.”
That podium — the American Jamie Anderson in first, the Austrian Anna Gasser in second and the Canadian Spencer O’Brien — was part of a field of women from six different nations in the six-person final.
“The Olympics are over, and we’re all just friends and nations together,” Gasser said after the competition.
“I’m really happy it’s like that and not like ski racing where all the nations are separated,” she added with a laugh.
O’Brien’s backside 900 was only the second time a back 9 has been landed in competition. The first time it was landed it was also from O’Brien, earlier this year at the X Games.
“I’m so impressed that Spence did the 9, I was scared to just to a switch back 5 on that jump,” Anderson said.
The judges rewarded O’Brien for the accomplishment, giving her a score of 9.05 out of 10 on that particular feature, the highest jump score of the day for the women. But as each of the six features are scored individually, that one score wasn’t enough to push her above Anderson and Gasser’s total scores. In her winning run, on the first of the three rail features, Anderson earned a score of 9.25 of 10, approaching the rail switch and spinning 270 degrees onto the rail and tailsliding out. Her next two railslides earned her scores of 8.5 and 9 for a total of 26.5 out of 30 on that section. On her best run, O’Brien’s rail score was 21.7.
“It was pretty fun on the upper section. You can flow and do some rail tricks,” Anderson said. “I worked really hard on my rail line the last couple days, and I wanted that to be locked down.”