By Kathleen Gasperini and Ryley Bane
The Burton U.S. Open of Snowboarding is the largest and longest-running snowboarding competition in the world. Last week in Vail, CO, the Open marked its 33rd anniversary and wrapped-up another epic event series with Kelly Clark claiming her 8th U.S. Open title in the Superpipe and Jaime Anderson taking home first place in Slopestyle.
The event is also one of snowboarding’s greatest festivals with music throughout the week including Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and a host of awareness and educational booths such as B4BC and their breast cancer awareness program, and POW, Protect Our Winters.
But what is most spectacular is the equal prize money for males and females. A total of $343,000 was awarded in total prize purse, giving $45,000 to the first-place men and women for both slope and pipe. This is something to note especially when it comes to action sports and the disparity in winnings. Women have always been a strong part of snowboarding culture from the very beginning which is one reason why this sport is different. Women are also an important area for the growth of the sport overall. What’s unfortunate is that surfing and especially skateboarding still have a long ways to go before they’ll feel the full-effects and benefits of growing the female sides of their sports. Overall, however, the growth of both industries will depend on making this happen (see our Action Sports Studies).
In surfing, women pros win less than half on average in major surf competitions, even if they are actually on the same set of waves in the same location as the males. In skateboarding, odds are even worse in that there are scarcely any events for women’s skateboarding to begin with.
In addition, Burton brought in partners such as MINI and Clif Bar & Company and made sure that their activation included equal prize money as well. First, Clif had a “Raise the Bar” which goes to the root of snowboarding and the creativity and style of the sport. Raise the Bar was awarded to the most innovative slopestyle trick on any of the course features. This helps to ensure that the competitions stay fresh and inspiring for both snowboarders and fans. Last week, the Raise the Bar award went to Enni Rukajärvi for her Cab 720 mute grab and to Sven Thorgren for his Cab 1260 roast beef nose grab. Both riders took home $2,500 each.
Secondly, MINI hosts it’s MINI Feature Award which is a competition between designers of slopestyle including the U.S. Open in Vail, the Burton High Fives in New Zealand, and the Burton European Open at LAAX. The design team with the greatest innovation wins. This year, it went to the team in LAAX with their halfpipe structure featuring two corners and different straight jump options. The team one $5,000 USD.
“We are really trying to support the riders and the culture here at the US Open. One of the reasons we love this event is because it has equal pay, equal purse prize, for both men and women,” explains Joey Steger, Director of Field Marketing at Clif Bar. “That’s really important to us here at Clif Bar. So we give equal pay on our awards too.”
The Burton U.S. Open Halfpipe finals rounded out the World Snowboard Tour Pro Series with Kelly Clark and Ayumu Hirano being crowned the first ever Pro Series Halfpipe Champions. After her victory at the Burton European Open in Laax, Switzerland, Kelly Clark secured herself her 8th gold medal at the U.S. Open today and the first ever Pro Series Halfpipe Champion title. Ayumu Hirano underlined his consistent performance at the BEO with a third place today, making him the first Pro Series Halfpipe Champion. Taku Hiraoka stepped up his game and led himself to his first US Open Halfpipe victory.
Kelly Clark (USA) put down a perfect run consisting of a Frontside Air, Backside 540 Mute, Frontside 1080 Indy, Cab 720 Mute, Crippler Stalefish and Method Air, a performance showcasing her outstanding riding, securing herself not only her 8th US Open victory but her first ever Pro Series Halfpipe Champion title. 14-year old American Chloe Kim came in second putting down her first ever landed Frontside 1080 in competition, while Arielle Gold (USA), attempting a Frontside 1080 Stalefish in her last run, rounded out the podium in third.
“It’s amazing winning the Pro Series title, it definitely showcases more of your season than just one victory. I’m always looking for the Tour title at the end of the year and I’m grateful to have captured that today at the US Open,” said Kelly Clark.
Men’s finals were thrilling right down to the last runs, the top riders pulled out their best tricks, entertaining the crowd to a maximum. Taku Hiraoka (JPN) was able to surpass his own performance by throwing down a Frontside 540 Indy, Backside 900 Mute, Frontside Double Cork 1080 Stalefish, Cab Double Cork 1080 Mute and a Frontside 1260 Tail Grab in his second run, firing himself into the top spot of this year’s US Open. France’s Arthur Longo stepped it up in his last run, combining technical difficulty with outstanding style, finishing in second place. Ayumu Hirano (JPN) becoming third today, celebrates being crowned the first Pro Series Halfpipe Champion after his second place at the Burton European Open earlier this year.
“I am very happy to become the first ever World Snowboard Tour Halfpipe Pro Series Champion. This is a great honor,” said Ayumu Hirano.
In the Slopestyle, Yuki Kadono (JPN) and Jamie Anderson (USA) earned the winning titles and both riders are ending the 2015 competitive slopestyle season on top, taking home $45,000 and the 2015 US Open slopestyle title, with Kadono putting down a historic run featuring the first ever back-to-back 1620s in competition.
Once again, snowboarding history was made at the Burton US Open, which is renowned for its record-breaking moments. Both Kadono and Mark McMorris gave the crowds an unforgettable show by nailing trick combinations that had never been done in any other snowboarding competition to date. Sunny skies overhead, a perfect course and a generous three-run format gave competitors every opportunity to put down their best runs.
It was a huge day in men’s slopestyle with the field of 27 men narrowed down to the final 10 in the morning’s rescheduled semi-finals. The three run format was key in Yuki Kadono’s history-making run as he clinched the victory with a score of 90.05 in his third and final run, starting with a switch backside 270 on to 270 out, to a lipslide to fakie, to a half Cab on backside 360 out in the upper rail section, into a frontside double cork 1080 mute off the first jump, backside triple cork 1620 mute, to a switch backside triple cork 1620 melon—a first-ever combination of back-to-back 1620s in competition.
Kadono said, “I know there are other riders here who are better than me, but I came into this contest to win, and that’s what I did.” As for landing his historic run, he explained, “I already had that run in mind,” adding, “The tricks I do in competition, I usually don’t do in practice.” In other words, he had never even tried that combination before landing it at today’s US Open.
Mark McMorris was in the lead for the entire competition until Kadono upset the scores with his unprecedented run. McMorris earned an 87.80 on his second run, linking a frontside triple cork 1440 mute into a backside triple cork 1440 mute—another competition first. Tyler Nicholson (CAN) landed in third place with a score of 77.20
McMorris said, “That was only the second or third frontside triple I’d ever tried. The stars aligned with perfect weather and a good course.
In the women’s field, Jamie Anderson took the lead early setting the unbeatable high score of 90.95 on her first run, putting down a Cab 270 to tailslide, switch boardslide to regular, boardslide 270 out on the upper rail section, into a backside 540, Cab 720 nosegrab, to a switch backside 540. This makes four US Open slopestyle titles for Jamie Anderson.
Anna Gasser (AUT) took second place with an 82.55 and Spencer O’ Brien (CAN) landed in third with an 82.05
Anderson said, “This event was pretty heavy pressure, it’s the biggest event of the year and the last one so I really wanted to ride strong and consistent. I worked really hard on my rail line the last couple days and I wanted that to be locked down. So for me I just wanted to have a consistent run top to bottom.”
Today’s slopestyle finals also determined the first ever World Snowboard Tour Pro Series champions with Jamie Anderson and Mark McMorris taking home the slopestyle titles. The best two results out of three Pro Series events determined the final results.
“I’m so incredibly stoked to be the first ever World Snowboard Tour Pro Series Champion,” said Jamie Anderson.
The Burton U.S. Open partners included Burton Snowboards, MINI, Vail Mountain, Mountain Dew, Town of Vail, Garmin, Paul Mitchell, 3M Thinsulate® Insulation®, G-Shock, Pacifico, Shiseido, Clif Bar & Company, CHILL, anon., Analog and World Snowboard Tour.