Jasey Jay Anderson and Ursula Bruhin overcame cold, snowy, conditions and a format change in the middle of the race to take the Dual Giant Slalom at the U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships held at Stratton Mountain, Vermont.
For Anderson, it was his fifth podium visit in five contests in a row this season, which included two other U.S. contests, plus events in Canada and Japan.
He was happy to take another and praised the course. “It was a great set,” he said. “The hill was good. It was perfect right out of the gate, you built up your speed, went into a turning section, had a nice knoll in the middle of the course, then it opened up again. I thought it was an excellent set. We could make some turns, and we could snowboard out there. I wish the conditions were better, but now the sun’s coming out.”
Indeed, the conditions were trying at the outset. Stratton Mountain received six to eight inches of snow overnight, which sent the mountain and the U.S. Open staffs into scramble mode to get the course ready for the day. They ended up starting late, then changing the format halfway through the race.
After the initial qualifiers, the field was cut to eight women and sixteen men, where they were supposed to go into a knock-out heat system. Each rider was to race head-to-head against another, and took two races down each of the two parallel courses. The rider with the fastest time of the heat would then advance up the ladder.
However, with the late start and the poor conditions, the riders, coaches, and event staff decided to just take the top eight women and top sixteen men, let them run two times (once on each course) and the lowest combined score of the two runs would win the race.
Swiss rider Ursula Bruhin realized that conditions were out of everyone’s hands. “Sometimes the weather is hard and you can’t do anything about it. It wasn’t so fun because a lot of the people said the slope was not good enough to finish the race. But I’m happy I won.”
She received some extra coaching to take the race. “Have two coaches at the race,” she said. “They pointed out that I was making some old mistakes, where I leaned too far forward. Sometimes if I want to go fast, I bend my head down and then my balance is not centralized on the board and I fall out of balance and make mistakes.”
Writer’s note: Unfortunately, the race gained little fanfare and wasn’t even filmed by the ESPN crews. Just several years ago, the U.S. Open featured a Duel Slalom and Super-G, but now has only one event for racers. Due to the dwindling interest in racing in the United States, Burton should just kill the hard-boot events altogether, and focus on crowd-pleasing events like the halfpipe, big air, and boardercross, which will be covered in full detail the rest of the weekend.