Jake and Donna Burton Carpenter sit in wooden deck chairs at the bottom of the pipe watching, cheering, and talking with riders between runs. Around them lounge friends, co-workers, yesterday’s slopestyle competitors and a pack of pipe riders who didn’t make finals. Between the crowd of riders behind the media corral, hundreds of spectators soak it all in. When there’s a break in the action, pros and industry heads alike poach runs. The only rule is going double overhead above the lip.
The rider’s right wall has softened in the blazing sun and wind lifts thin curls of snow off the left wall, making it difficult for many riders to land a full line. Above this scene, Japan’s Taku Hiraoka drops in for his second run.
Sticking to a replica of the line that got him second at 2015 X Games, he boosts a massive frontside 540 frontside grab, backside 900 mute, frontside double cork 1080 stalefish, Cab double cork 1080 mute, and frontside 1260 tail grab, knocking fellow Japanese rider Ayumu Hirano into second.
Taku Hiraoka’s winning run and interview
There’s a solid pack of riders who still have another run, including Hirano, Danny Davis, Ben Ferguson, Christain Haller, and last year’s winner Taylor Gold, but all struggle to land their tricks.
On his third and final run, I-Pod briefly cracks the top three after ditching his backside double McTwist 1260 attempt and replacing it with a more conservative backside 540 and a bunch of double cork 1080s to make a run. As the next rider to complete a run, Jan Scherrer briefly moves into third before Arthur Longo comes out swinging with a huge mute to fakie, Cab 1080 mute, frontside 900 melon, method, frontside double cork 1080 frontside grab, to switch alley-oop double backside rodeo melon. It was a run he had never landed before, earning an 84.99, and bumping Hirano to third. For Danny Davis, Ben Ferguson, and Taylor Gold it’s a heart breaker day. They all had sick runs in the works but just couldn’t find the landings on their last hits.
Arthur Longo’s second place run and interview
With only Hirano and Hiraoka left to drop, the podium order hasn’t shuffled. But as Hirano takes off on his second hit, a frontside double cork 1080 truck driver, he hooks on the landing, hitting his head and cracking his helmet. After a few tense moments and total silence from the spectators, he picks himself up and rides away.
Hiraoka takes his victory lap, a series of soaring straight airs. Champagne is popped. The media circus ensues. The crowd descends on the town of Vail to rage on a Saturday night.
Ayumu Hirano’s third place run and interview
2015 Burton US Open Men’s Halfpipe Results
1. Taku Hiraoka, 90.99
2. Arthur Longo, 84.99
3. Ayumu Hirano, 84.75
4. Jan Scherrer, 78.62
5. Iouri Podladtchikov, 73.25
6. Christian Haller, 67.87
7. Danny Davis, 62.12
8. Taylor Gold, 61.12
9. Ben Ferguson, 49.12
10. David Habluetzel, 24.87