Luke Mitrani, Danny Kass, and Peetu Piiroinen. PHOTO: Aaron Blatt

STRATTON, VT (March 21, 2009) – Epic weather and an impeccable halfpipe greeted 15,000 fans and many of the world’s top snowboarders at the US Open Snowboarding Championships held at Stratton Mountain Resort.  No strangers to the top spot on the US Open halfpipe podium, Danny Kass took home his record-setting fifth US Open halfpipe title and Torah Bright earned her third US Open halfpipe title. Bright earned a bonus $3,000 and the Amp Energy Best Trick award for her stylish switch backside 720 while Luke Mitrani claimed his second Amp Energy Best Trick award with a crowd-pleasing switch double back flip.

The women dropped in first, and Kelly Clark took the top spot early on in the competition with a frontside air, backside 540 mute grab, frontside 720 indy, Cab 720 ending with a frontside 540 earning an impressive 93 points. It wasn’t until the third and final runs that Kelly lost her hold on first place. Torah Bright’s final run stole the show when she dropped in switch, starting off with Cab 720 indy, followed by a crippler, backside 360 indy, switch backside 720 ending with a backside 540. Kelly had one more chance to top Torah’s amazing 96 points, but she fell on her last run.

Torah’s run earned her a coveted spot in the US Open history books, tying Kelly for the most US Open women’s halfpipe titles. “I feel great,” said Torah. “I didn’t realize that I tied with Kelly for the most wins. It feels really good, especially because the US Open is such a special event.”

In the men’s finals, Luke Mitrani was the star of the first runs with his signature switch double back flip. Last year’s Burton Global Open Series champion Peetu Piiroinen’s second run earned him first place for a little while and included a frontside 720, Cab 1080, alley-oop backside rodeo, frontside alley-oop, a frontside 540 ending with a backside 720. But it was the third run when the podium order changed after snowboarding superstar Danny Kass took the first place title with a winning run that included a frontside 1080, Cab 1080, frontside 900, backside 720, ending with a switch alley-oop 540.

Danny had this to say about his record-breaking fifth US Open halfpipe title, “I feel amazing, I am beyond stoked that this is my fifth win,” said Danny Kass. “It feels great to come out again and put together some runs. I was feeling it today for sure.”

As if the action in the US Open halfpipe wasn’t enough, Santigold, whose album ‘Santogold’ landed at number six on Rolling Stone’s top albums of 2008, took to the stage for a free concert following the awards ceremony.

After today’s halfpipe finals, riders only have one more chance at tomorrow’s slopestyle finals to earn points towards the $100,000 BGOS title. Currently, Chas Guldemond (USA) and Charles Reid (CAN) are a mere 500 points apart for snowboarding’s biggest single payout. On the women’s side, Jamie Anderson (USA) still has a healthy 5000 point lead ahead of Silvia Mittermueller for the BGOS title.

Peetu Piirionen and Shaun White were neck and neck in the Swatch TTR World Tour Champion title race, but with Peetu placing second today in halfpipe he has clinched the 2008/2009 TTR World Champion title. The TTR World Tour award ceremony will happen tomorrow following slopestyle finals where Peetu will be presented with the TTR World Tour Champion trophy and a total of $110,000 will be paid out to the TTR Top 5.

The 27th Annual US Open wraps up tomorrow with the junior jam halfpipe competition, followed by men’s and women’s slopestyle finals, after which three major titles will be awarded: the $100,000 Burton Global Open Series men’s and women’s title, the Volvo Most Valuable Rider Award and the Men’s Swatch TTR World Tour Champion award.