On a bitter cold night with a great crowd of almost 3,000 strong, a DJ spinning the tunes, green-tuxedo-wearing announcers, an a cappella version of the national anthem that would rival Rosanne’s infamous incident, and a fireworks display, Jussi Oksanen and Jamie McCleod spun their ways to U.S. Open Big Air titles and places in the history books. The only thing that was missing was alcohol.
For Oksanen, it almost didn’t happen because he was getting good riding in Tahoe and didn’t want to head out to the Ice Coast. But the team manager from his new board sponsor, Burton, suggested he might want to be there for their event. His decision paid off to the tune of $6,000.
Oksanen stuck a switch backside 900 in his first run, posted the highest score, and watched as the seventeen other competitors tried to best him with their other two attempts. The only one who came close was Jason Borgstede, who also stuck a 900 on his first attempt, then was thwarted by the blowing winds. Eighteen-year-old Scott Arnold came in third. Ben Hinkley stuck a double front flip, but didn’t have a high enough score, so he tried a 1080 on his last run, but barely missed the landing.
The finale consisted of last year’s winner, Myles Hallen, launching off the jump as fireworks were set off and the night sky exploded into different colors.
Ingemar Backman won the SoBe Most Progressive Trick award for the men with a super late, late 180.
For Oksanen, the formula was simple: “I just tried to stick the trick, do it fast, and go home,” he said afterward.
On the women’s side, Jamie McCleod landed two backside 3’s to overcome the other eight competitors and finally get her first place showing. She’s also taken a second place in 1997 and third place last year. She also took the SoBe best trick award bringing her total winnings for the night to $8,500.
“It was really cold up there so I was actually just hoping to get it over with,” she says of was she was thinking of before her jumps.
McCleod was impressed with the other female riders. “Tara Dakidas definitely was good with her backflip, and Leslee Olson’s rodeo was almost there.”
Leslee had also been a sort of guardian angel for McCleod earlier in the day when she found and returned one of McCleod’s boards that had been stolen from the pipe the day before. It turned out to be her winning board.