The Vans Triple Crown kicked off today with Mens and Womens Boardercross qualifying rounds and Halfpipe practice.

With $125,000 and a overall tour prize including a brand new Ford Ranger at stake the competition promises to be fierce. This event is also the first showcase for the new Super Dragon 2000 Halfpipe. “It is a monster of a halfpipe, it will definitely seperate the men from the boys,” said one competitor. With the new and improved dragon Pat Malendoski and Frank Wells have been able to create a halfpipe with at least fifteen foot walls. It should make for a great contest, if practice today was any indication.

After eliminating about two thirds of the field, twenty three of the fastest women are left to compete in the Boardercross finals on Friday. Top five finishers included Doris Krings of Austria, Maelle Ricker of Vancouver, Kathrin Kellenber, Leslee Olson of Bend, Oregon, and Ine Petzl also an Austrian rider. Unofficial men’s results were also dominated by European riders including Philippe Conte, Nicolas Conte, Xavier Deleur, Scott Gaffney (the sole North American in the top five), and Ueli Kestenholz.

The Big Air practice round was postponed until Friday after riders and officials decided the jump was in need of reshaping, but with riders like Chad Otterstrom, Kurt Wastell, Blaise Rosenthal, Jeremy Jones, and Leslie Olson it should definitely be worth watching.

Friday promises Snowboard Cross elimination and finals, more halfpipe training, and Big Air qualifying rounds.