Unique slopestyle course greets top snowboarders Wednesday at Burton US Open
VAIL – Last year, when the slopestyle course at the Burton US Open Snowboard Championships contained a mandatory “side hit,” competitors took notice.
While side hits – quarterpipe-style transitions onto the side of the jump, rather than hitting it head on – are often an option, they’re usually not mandatory.
“Whenever they’re in a course, I always try to hit them,” Red Gerard said of side hits before going on to win the event.
This year, the Burton US Open course contains two mandatory side hits, one to the right, and one to the left. Rail features book end the side hits, so riders must go from rail mode to jump mode, then back to rail mode, before hitting the final jump, a traditional 70-foot step down.
Gerard said he can’t wait to get back to the US Open again this year.
“It’s my favorite event of the year,” he said. “Winning last year was a dream come true and I’m just amped to get back and ride the best course with all my friends.”
Only 1 straight jump
Announcer Jonathan “DC” Oetken said the crazy course design has him especially excited at the prospect of calling this year’s event. Oetken will be the voice of the competition for on-site spectators who gather at Golden Peak Wednesday starting at 10 a.m.
“There’s a rail right before the last jump, which is the only straight-on jump on the course,” Oetken said. “I really like how the US Open always mixes it up.”
The updated course design was based on rider feedback in an effort to incorporate more speed and flow, Burton said in a news release.
Anna Gasser’s triple flip
Oetken said the women’s competition will be especially exciting, with the final, 70-foot jump, big enough for Anna Gasser to attempt a triple flip. She attempted several at X Games in January.
“That last jump is big enough, if she’s feeling it,” Oetken said of Gasser.
In the women’s field, returning champion Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, will be up against a stacked field of 16 riders looking to take this year’s title including Jamie Anderson, who has been on a winning streak this season earning titles at both the 2020 Aspen X Games and Winter Dew Tour, Julia Marino, Laurie Blouin and Hailey Langland all ready to give Sadowski-Synnott a run for the title.
In the men’s division, Gerard will be defending his title against a heavy field of 32 men including past Burton U·S·Open slopestyle champions Mark McMorris and Yuki Kadono, and 2020 X Games Big Air champ Max Parrot, 2020 X Games Slopestyle champ Darcy Sharpe, Sven Thorgren, Staale Sandbech and Rene Rinnekangas, among others.
The 32 man and 16-woman field on Wednesday will be narrowed down to a 10-man and six-woman final, which will take place on Friday in a three-run format.
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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.