Day 1 - Halfpipe qualification
Day one of the sixth annual Burton NZ Open at Snow Park NZ today saw a varied field of young, and not so young, athletes all vying for a spot in Saturday’s semi-finals alongside some of the world’s best snowboarders.
Ranging in age from 10-year-old Seamus O’Connor to 62-year-old Dick Schulze, both from the USA, the field was diverse for today’s qualifiers, including a large number of strong riders whose performance will set them in good stead against the invited riders in on Saturday.
“Top men’s qualifier, Brennen Swanson (USA) put down a really big, clean run, held all his grabs, never sketched and basically rode the way you need to in a competition of this caliber,” said judge, Ste’en Webster.
Swanson’s run featured a method air, followed by a frontside 900, backside 540, frontside 720, Cab 7 (switch frontside 720), finishing with a Crippler (frontside inverted 540).
The women’s field was dominated by Jiayu Liu (CHN) who put down an extremely strong run that would have turned heads in the men’s field. She got massive amplitude on every hit, holding it for the entire run which included a huge frontside air followed by an equally big backside air, frontside 540 to backside 540 mute grab, a frontside 360, finishing with a Cab 3 melon. 2008 is the first year the Chinese National Team has entered the Open with all three women and one of the two men qualifying for the semi-finals.
Paula Mitchell (Wanaka) was the only New Zealander to qualify and will join fellow Kiwis Juliane Bray, Kendall Brown, Mitchell Brown, Ben Stewart and James Hamilton, all of whom are invited pre-ranked riders.
Neither the youngest nor the eldest competitor made it through the qualifiers although O’Connor received a very respectable 35.33 against a field twice his age. Schulze, who has traveled the world competing in the Burton Global Open Series, this is his 6th event in under a year.
Day 2 - Slopestyle qualification
High winds and poor visibility delayed the start of day two of the Burton NZ Open but did little to dampen the spirits of a strong men’s field in the slopestyle qualifiers. Over 80 international riders from 13 countries took on Snow Park NZ’s new slopestyle course to earn a place in tomorrow’s semi-finals alongside some of the world’s best snowboarders.
The 800m-long course tested the riders’ skills with a variety of features, including a staircase, two massive kickers and an urban wall ride. Top scoring qualifier, Sam Hulbert (USA) went huge and stomped each of his landings, putting down a big and solid run that included back to back 900’s, seemingly immune to the testing conditions. He was just 0.17 points ahead of New Zealander Nick Brown who put down an equally impressive run.
New Zealand took four out of the 15 qualifying spots with Nick Brown (Queenstown), Nick Hyne (Queenstown), Connor Harding (Wanaka) and Neville Lapwood joining invited riders Mitch Brown, James Hamilton and Stef Zeestraten in tomorrow’s semifinals.
“The Kiwi boys killed it, said judge Ste’en Webster. “Especially the two Nicks with their usual precision rail riding and solid air. Nick Hyne actually took out the NZO slopestyle title three years ago and it’s good to see him back after his absence from last year’s Open due to injury.”
Due to the delayed start, all 22 women qualifiers will go through to tomorrow’s semi-finals, competing against back-to-back X-Games gold medalist, Jamie Anderson (USA).
The Burton NZ Open continues tomorrow (Friday) with the slopestyle semi-finals and finals followed by the invitational quarterpipe – historically a big crowd puller as some of the world’s top riders defy the laws of gravity getting massive air under floodlights to the tunes of top Kiwi DJs. For further information and full results, visit www.opensnowboarding.com
For those unable to make to Snow Park NZ, watch the semi-finals and finals live on Go211.com, where webcasts and highlights of the competitions will also be available for on-demand viewing once the event is over.