In the women’s division, Stine Brun-Kjeldaas took top honors and $7,500 for her win in the halfpipe competition. Kjeldaas stuck a 720 and a frontside 540 in her run to secure the win.
Staying true to the weather patterns of the Tahoe Basin, a day after a three-foot dump, the storm blew on through, and both competitors and spectators, were rocking T-shirts and sunblock for the final day of the Vans Triple Crown of Snowboarding at Sierra at Tahoe.
The pipe still measured in at a whopping fifteen feet tall, as was the case in the practice and qualifying, but today the snow consistency was favorable, and the pipe’s transition and flatbottom stayed in good shape throughout the day. In turn, the Men’s and Women’s semi-finals and finals turned out some of the best riding of the entire event.
Unfortunately for me, there were no longer VIP food tents at the bottom of the pipe, so I had no valid excuse for missing any part of this six-plus hour-long contest. Instead, I sat without any sunblock or water at the bottom of the pipe for the entire event. But hey, anything to bring you people the low down of the event, which goes a little something like this.
I woke up at six a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep because I was stoked that I wasn’t riding the hill on a bluebird day. I kicked myself out of partial slumber around 9:00 a.m. and after eating breakfast; I called Tara Dakides for a ride to the hill. This, I will never do again. You see, by the time I made it to where Tara was staying, it was 9:45, Women’s practice for the pipe, in which Tara was entered, started at 10:00; the resort was 30 minutes away with traffic. I could give you the play by play, but I’ll save you the talk of moving violations. Let’s just say I was white knuckled the entire drive. Upon arriving at the hill, I said a small prayer, and walked from the parking lot to the pipe, where the Women’s practice was underway.
The pipe was in the super good shape and the women competitors were using it to their advantage. Who was “ripping it” you may ask? Well, I’ll answer that for you right now. Kim Stacey was going large in practice and the semi-finals. Autumn Rose had some solid runs, throwing frontside five’s off the first hit and smooth backside three’s at the bottom. Cara Beth Burnside displayed her TSI style and might have had one of the bigger straight airs in the Women’s event.
Tara Dakides did some good airs and wooed the crowd with her patented backflip to fakie some snowboarder gang from Canada had the audacity to rip off and rename, “The Wildcat to fakie.” But, the two ladies I was backing most in practice and the semi-finals were Natasza Zurek and Stine Brun KJeldaas. Both women looked super solid and were pulling out all the stops. Somehow, the judges didn’t feel Natasza’s large McTwists and huge straight airs were worthy enough to get her into the finals and she fell one away from the top ten cut. Granted she kinda crashed in one of her two semi-final runs, but come on, she was really pushing the envelope, man. The judges made up for their slip when they awarded the first place trophy and a check for $7500 to Stine, whose winning run partly consisted of: a frontside five, followed by a large backside air, then a frontside 720; ending with a half Cab. American, Kim Stacey, had equally good runs, and finished second. Third place went to Cristel Thoresen.
By the time the Men’s practice and semi-finals were done, I was sunburned and pretty sick of snowboarding. Regardless, I hung around for the finals and some damn good snowboarding went down.
Leet me clarify what I define as damn good riding. If a rider drops into the pipe and does a twelve-foot high method, followed by a ten-foot high frontside air, then maybe an eight-foot high alley-oop, then a smooth spin of some sorts, finished with a switch stance something or other, in my book, that rider gets the cake. Other people might consider people spinning like a Ballerina off every other hit as good snowboarding. What about someone who avoids risking life and limb by keeping their straight airs around the five-foot high level. Hell, maybe even some of the judges think that way. If it was up to me, the rider who went the fastest and the biggest, would win the contest, even if he or she only got a two hits in the pipe. But you know what they say, opinions are like¿well you know, everyone’s got one.
Some riders kept it fairly conservative and others, such as DCP, went for it. He blasted huge backside 720′s, and switch alley-oop McTwists, but was unable to land everything perfect, and didn’t make the top three. Neither did Gold Medallist, Gian Simmen, whose amplitude and style got roars from the crowd. He started his runs with a giant Haakonflip, blasted some hella high straight airs, and finished with a frontside seven, grabbed stalefish. Tommy Czeschin was ruling it, too, but had trouble keeping it all together. Jan Michaelis had some of the most consistent runs throughout the entire contest; super big airs and linked 720′s, but he got cut off from the podium for one reason or the other. There were also a lot of other dudes there, but I won’t even make an attempt at butchering their names or some of the tricks they were doing.
All and all, the Men’s finals in the halfpipe went without a hitch or anyone being carted off in a body bag and in the end, the win went to Ross Powers, who stayed on his board and did a lot of tricks. Aside from the 10,000-dollar check and a trophy for first place, Ross also won a brand new Ford Ranger for allotting the most points throughout the Vans Triple Crown Series. Danny Passinoche got a respectable second place, and Guilliaum Morisset, who was on fire for most the day and bidding for top dawg honors¿settled for third.
1STINE BRun KjELDAAS232424.00
5CARA BETH BURNSIDE19.29.719.20