Epic. Legendary. Sick. Silly. One for the history books. Best pipe contest ever. Period. Canadian Guillaume Morisset won the U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships at Stratton Mountain, Vermont in an upset over the local favorite and last year’s winner Ross Powers. He edged Powers by less than a point in the 50-minute jam-format final where each rider could take as many runs as he wanted, but only the top two scores combined counted.
The final featured ten riders who raised the level of the sport to new all-time proportions, with a couple more poaching the pipe in practice, much to the excitement and approval of the frenzied, capacity crowd.
Build it and they will come. Indeed, the Super Pipe, combined with the near perfect, clear-blue-sky weather made it that much easier for the riders to launch ten-, twelve-, and fourteen-foot straight airs and big floating spins and flips out of the pipe.
“There was so much adrenaline,” said Morisset of the event, who scored a combined 73.90. “It’s so fun to be riding with everyone. The jam format is pretty fun. But at the end we were so tired. But it’s so much fun to ride so you do as much as possible even though you’re tired.” There was a secret to his success: Morisset said that he started off the day with his usual breakfast: Raisin Bran. “That’s the trick to land switch backside fives.” He did better than that in the final. With a run that included switch backside rodeo, a Haakonflip, a switch backside seven, a couple of grabs, and finished off with a 720 corkscrew, Morisset won the respect of the crowd quickly and helped to build the drama between himself and Powers, who was launching quite possibly the biggest straight airs of the finals, in addition to throwing down 900s and switch sevens. His score was 73.1. Just behind the two was the rest of the pack.
If it was a two-horse race for first place, it was a five-horse race for third place, as German Xavier Hoffman, Swiss Therry Brunner, Canadian Trevor Andrew, American Tommy Czeschin, and Canadian Daniel Migneault were all within two points of each other, and finished in that order respectively. Pity on the judges who had to sort it all out.
Third-place finisher Hoffman credited the level of riding to the pipe. “It’s sick,” he said. “The pipe is perfect. The pipe fits the riding. It seems like the level was the highest ever. I’ve never seen a contest like that before. Never. Ever. We definitely need pipes like that to train in.”
Hoffman snuck into third place late in the jam final because he sketched his first two runs in the final. But being able to take as many as he needed gave him the opportunity to make up for it. He did in style, putting together a run that included two 900s, one switch and one regular. Sixth-place finisher Tommy Czeschin also agreed that the pipe was the biggest reason for the level of riding. “It was a lot of fun because the pipe was so good. Everyone was just going off. The format did take a toll on the riders, who had been riding since early in the morning. “I was getting a little tired because riding all day really takes it out of you,” said Czeschin. He was also stoked on the crowd. “It was awesome. Having so many people here cheering you on, it’s really cool.”
There were some upsets earlier in the day. Keir Dillon ended up in eleventh place after the semi finals, one place out of the finals, but kept poaching the pipe and boosting huge. Daniel Franck was two places out of the finals, right behind Dillon. Also poaching the pipe, much to the enjoyment of the crowd, was another favorite Abe Teter, who was two places out of the semi finals. He was going bigger than anyone, boosting fourteen-foot airs. He inspired Terje Haakonsen, who missed the semis by one place, to also poach and try to go big. Haakon delivered some twelve- and fourteen footers of his own, much to the delight of the cheering crowd.
1. Guillaume Morisset 73.9
2. Ross Powers 73.1
3. Xavier Hoffman 70.7
4. Therryy Brunner 70.6
5. Trevor Andrew 69.9
6. Tommy Czeschin 69.6
7. Daniel Migneault 68.5
8. Luke Wynen 65.9
9. Rob Kingwill 65.8
10. Adam Petraska 64.7