What a difference a day makes. The Burton New Zealand Open halfpipe and quarterpipe competitions had to be cancelled on Saturday due to gale force winds and white-out conditions at Snow Park NZ. Fortunately for the riders, the weather day reserved on Sunday proved to be picturesque. Fresh snow in the flat-bottom of the pipe proved to be challenging at the start of the comp, but once the pipe was broken it, it was on. Girls and guys alike were going huge; many were rolling the dice right off the bat with huge tricks on their first hit. But did the gamble pay off?
For hometown hero, Mitch Brown, it did. Brown, a Snow Park NZ local and New Zealand native had competed in Opens before, but had never placed. Mitch had been riding strong throughout the entire competition, but trailed Scotty Lago until the final runs of the day. By then the clear skies had turned gray and the snow returned, drastically reducing the visibility. Lago felt as though he rode the best he could with a second run that started off with a big Lien air, followed by a double corked back 9 mute, into a front 7 stalefish, followed by a Cab 7 mute and finishing off with a front 9, so opted out of his last run of the day. It proved to be the window of opportunity that Brown needed, and he seized it. As if a sign from above, the clouds parted and the sun broke through, allowing Mitch a clear shot at victory. Starting off his last and winning run with a huge front 9 tailgrab, he flowed seamlessly into a back 5 mute, followed by an incredible front 10, into a Haakon 7, frontside air, into a back 9 and finishing off with an Allyoop Michealchuck. The kiwi crowd went wild as he stuck that last trick, the scores came up and Brown had successfully bumped Scotty out of first. “I am super stoked to win an event in my home country, the weather turned out to be pretty good, and it was rad to hang out with my friends and ride together and have fun, said Rip Curl rider Mitch Brown of his $5000 halfpipe win at Burton New Zealand Open.
But don’t feel sorry for Scotty, he certainly didn’t go home empty handed. Lago took home the second place prize of $2500, the halfpipe best trick award for the backside corked 9 ($1000), the quarterpipe best trick award for a McTwist ($1000) and the best overall in the quarterpipe ($2500). Scotty had this to say, “I am so pumped right now, I love New Zealand. I had a super fun week, hanging out with all these riders from all over the world in the middle of August. And I’m going home with a bunch of cash- I’m stoked!
1 54 Mitch Brown NZE Mount Maunganui RIP CURL F 93.25 $5000
2 38 Scotty Lago USA Seabrook FLOW F 88.00 $2500
3 25 Ryo Aono JPN Matuyamasi YONEX F 83.50 $1250
4 116 Daisuke Murakami JPN Sapporo K2 F 78.00 $500
5 135 Justin Lamoureux CAN Squamish BATALEON SNOWBOARDS F 75.75 $250
6 29 Iouri Podladtchikov RUS Zurich SANTACRUZ F 74.25 $250
Meanwhile, a similar head-to-head battle was being fought in the women’s halfpipe finals. Kelly Clark had a commanding lead throughout the semi’s and into her first run of finals which she started off with a huge frontside air, followed by a equally large backside air, into a front 5, backside indy, then a front 7 indy, Cab 3 tailgrab and finishing with a stylie nosegrab. But Torah Bright proved again that she was a force to be reckoned with and busted out in her second run during finals with an extremely technical run that started with a backside 5 Japan air, into an tweaked out air to fakie tailgrab, followed by a Cab 7 melon, into a front 5 indy, back 3 indy and finished with an impressive switch back 5. It was no surprise that the run boosted Bright into first place, but the question that remained was whether or not she could hold on to her lead. The same weather that affected the outcome of the men’s finals played a part in the women’s as well. Torah washed out on the landing of her second hit in her final run and proceeded to slash powder turns down the rest of the pipe. Kelly drropped in with a little help from her friends; the wind was blowing up the center of the pipe so fiercely at that point that Louie Vito grabbed her hands and launched her down the roll-in. Kelly got massive amplitude on her last run, but technicality of Torah’s previous run had sealed the deal. Bright was stoked with the outcome of the day, “the music was great, I just wanted to ride and have fun. It’s awesome, especially with the conditions yesterday- well it just turned out to be a great day today. More than anything I am excited for Mitch Brown; it’s so great that he won here. In addition to her $5000 check for first place in the halfpipe competition, Bright also won best trick for the switch back 5. Kelly is heading home with $2500 for second place in halfpipe, in addition to winning the highest air ($1000) and first place ($2500) for women in the quarterpipe jam session that immediately followed the halfpipe awards ceremony. Leanne Pelosi and Jacqui Berg busted out synchronized hand-plants to split the best trick award of $1000; no doubt they’ll be blowing that at Shooter’s tonight.
1 16 Torah Bright AUS Cooma ROXY F 88.00 $5000
2 37 Kelly Clark USA West Dover BURTON F 87.25 $2500
3 55 Manuela Laura Pesko SUI Lenzerhide FTWO F 77.00 $1250
4 14 Sarah Conrad CAN Dartmouth, NS RIDE F 74.00 $500
5 1 Soko Yamaoka JPN Nagano-shi NOVEMBER F 69.75 $250
6 7 Juliane Bray NZE Wanaka BURTON F 68.50 $250