I just flew in from Japan two days ago, where I was at the Volcom Slopestyle in Kijimaidara. What was missing that event (besides Taco Bell): Women. Yeah, it was a men’s invitational, so you can imagine how psyched I was to get here and see some girls throw down. Pirouette slide-40s, boardslaps, and a ponytails just won’t get you into the finals at the U.S. Open anymore.

Kelly Clark, maybe you’ve heard of her, came out to defend her Vermonter home turf today with a trick we didn’t see her pull in “that other contest.” The new move is a corked backside 540 that has tons of style–and of course, height.

As per usual at the U.S. Open, the European riders were in heavy rotation. Norwegian Anne Molin Kongsgaard’s been carrying out a sentence of breakage for the past year or so, but according to today’s performance she’s definitely overcome her injuries. Anne was going big all morning, and one run I even saw her do a frontside five to McTwist to frontside 720 combination that was off the meatrack. Another Norwegian, Kjersti Buaas, had some seriously big air to fakies, while French rider Doriane Vidal dominated with head-high 720s grabbed lien for extra style points. It was German Olympian Nicola Thost, however, who came out on top; stomping frontside sevens and slaughtering preconceived notions about women’s amplitude. Oh, and I just heard that she’s featured in the newest German Playboy, which you can be sure is every bit as smoking as her riding.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s finals action, where there’s sure to be lots of sweet air time, a little rain, and just a bit of smelling the glove.

Quarterfinals Results
1. Nicola Thost
2. Anne Molin Kongsgaard
3. Kjersti Buaas
4. Kelly Clark
5. Stine Brun Kjeldaas
6. Maelle Ricker
7. Doriane Vidal
8. Lisa Hegertun Wiik
9. Tricia Byrnes
10. Natasza Zurek