Who says the U.S. Open never changes? For an event so rooted in history, the Open continues to switch it up every year in the name of making itself, um, radder. The new edition for 2006? A quarterpipe contest held at the main Stratton base area replaced the infamous Open rail jam that’s gone on for the past couple years over in the Sun Bowl. True, this isn’t exactly new. It’s actually a throwback to several years ago—1999 to be exact. That’s right, it’s been since the last millennium that any U.S. Open event was held on the runs above Stratton village, the site of the original Open goings on. It was a homecoming of sorts, and for anyone that has been part of this contest’s two decade history, it felt damn good to be back over there.
Anyway, the QP itself was 35 feet high, ensuring a hauling-ass run-in—no speed checks allowed. As the night skies darkened over everyone’s head, an icy headwind kicked up and made it even more difficult for riders to keep up their speed. Shortly thereafter, some big old nasty bumps developed in the transition. It was like watching gladiators out there fighting to the death in mortal combat. Kind of, anyway. But that’s why quarterpipe is so exciting to watch: big airs, bigger crashes.
Although it took riders a little while to warm up to this 35 foot monstrosity, once they did, the crowd witnessed some amazing things. Antti Autti, who’d been riding all day long in slopestyle practice and halfpipe qualifiers and must’ve been tired as a dog, was one of the first to float some really big, smooth-style backside airs. Pretty soon, the likes of Elijah Teter, Nate Farrell, Steve Fisher, Scotty Lago, and Shane Pospisil were flying around in the Vermont night sky.
I had to remind myself I wasn’t hallucinating from hypothermia when Torah bright started dropping into that bad boy switch and pulling her super stylee Cab fives. I mean, plenty of us would’ve fallen just riding into that thing regular—she is the master of tech! Molly Aguirre spun backside fives, Japan’s Junko Asazuma had mean backside airs, and Hana Beaman schralped lofty frontside air-to-fakies and even a McTwist or two. Danny Davis was alley-oop fiving and frontside nining. Tyler Emond was going GIANT. Oh, and I should mention, it became so frickin’ cold that I experienced several shivering-induced seizures. It just wouldn’t be the U.S. Open without a little frostbite and a lot of rad riding, now would it????
US Open Quarterpipe, Final Results
Stratton, Vermont—Friday March 17th
1. Danny Davis
2. Risto Matilla
3. Kevin Pearce
Sobe Sick Trick Winners: Tyler Emond, Risto Matilla, Danny Davis
Hightest Air: Pat Moore
1. Hana Beaman
2. Junko Asazuma
3. Molly Aguirre
Sobe Sick Trick Winners: Junko Asazuma, Hana Beaman, Torah Bright
Highest Air: Junko Asazuma