The Burton Global Open Series announces Mitch Brown (NZE) and Torah Bright (AUS) as men’s and women’s halfpipe champions in the fifth annual Burton NZ Open at Snow Park NZ today.
Brown is the first New Zealander to take out the prestigious halfpipe title in the history of the competition. He was the highest scoring rider in the semi-finals when his combination of tricks, from top to bottom, the most technical run of the semis. Going into the finals, his first run was not up to his previous standard putting him in seventh place. In his second run, the weather set in with wind and poor visibility but when others were giving up, he kept going, moving up into third. Saving the best until last it was his final run that put him into first place. Featuring a frontside 900, followed by backside 540, frontside 1080, Haakon flip, frontside air backside 900 to an Allyoop inverted 540, the run scored him 93.25, putting him clearly ahead of second place winner, Scotty Lago (USA) with 88.0.
Lago had the highest amplitude of the day, getting monster height out of the pipe but his run was not as technical as Brown’s although he did take out best men’s trick. Ryo Aono (JPN), current leader on the FIS World Cup halfpipe circuit took out third with another huge and technical run.
“Mitch was on fire, right from training in the morning,” said Ste’en Webster, assistant head judge. “His qualifying runs were a bit of an eye-opener for the rest of the field. It’s great to see Kiwi success at this competition.”
Torah Bright was in top form to take not only the women’s halfpipe title but also best trick with a switch backside 540 which was the last hit of her winning run. The run featured a backside five, air to fakie, cab720, frontside 540, backside 360 finishing with the switch backside 540. The entire run was extremely well executed with every hit featuring a grab.
Last year’s winner, Kelly Clark, got second despite getting the highest amplitude in the girls’ field but Bright’s technical aspect stepped above Clark’s amplitude. Manuela Pesko (SUI) took out third with a good spin combination of three’s, five’s and sevens and is the current leader of the FIS Halfpipe World Cup Tour.
Event organiser, Reuben Yeoman said the event showed New Zealand snowboarding was now a definite force to be reckoned with on the world stage.
“This year’s open was a huge success, especially considering the weather conditions thrown at us,” he said. “One thing that really came through is New Zealand riders are matching it on a world level. It’s not just the big names such as Mitch Brown and Juliane Bray but there’s a real depth of talent that showed itself during the Burton Open.”
The 2007 Burton NZ Open finished with a twilight invitational quarterpipe jam with riders letting loose on Snow Park NZ’s massive quarterpipe