2014 Burton US Open of Snowboarding Preview

Just three weeks ago slopestyle made it’s Olympic debut and the world saw another side of snowboarding beyond halfpipe, boardercross, and slalom. As the mainstream media coverage ensued we were fed hysterical stories about the dangers of the slopestyle course (as many of the riders have said, there were some things wrong at the start, but it was more a matter of tweaking the course, which happens any contest). We listened to clueless NBC live stream commentators Jack Nicholls and Ron McIntosh (Jack usually covers motorsports, while Ron commentates tennis). Then there were journalists asking Mark McMorris questions like, “If slopestyle is such a new sport, how did you get so good at it so fast?”

To be fair, we did witness some of the highest level slopestyle riding to date with tricks like Sage Kotsenburg’s contest-first backside 1620 japan and McMorris’s back-to-back triple corks. There were other positives as the message that style is key to snowboarding started to seep out to a larger audience along with mentions that there are massive problems with the FIS. But these moments were mixed a heavy dose of sensationalism and clumsy reporting. Snowboarding has many subtleties that are easy to miss and take years to understand—exposure isn’t much good without a solid understanding of our heritage.

Kazu Kokubo, victory lap. A classic moment from the 2011 Burton US Open. PHOTO: Aaron Blatt

Kazu Kokubo, victory lap. A classic moment from the 2011 Burton US Open. PHOTO: Aaron Blatt

On Wednesday, March 5 we leave the ills that come with Olympic fever behind as the world’s longest running snowboard competition kicks off at Vail, Colorado. Now in it’s thirty-second year the US Open remains an event for up-and-comers and established pros to carve out a spot for themselves in snowboard history and have their names placed alongside past Open winners such as Craig Kelly, Terje Haakonsen, Todd Richards, and Travis Rice.

With over 90 riders competing in the 2014 Open organizers are trying their best to keep pace with the riders’ needs while letting the event evolve. “The US Open has always been a contest focused on the riders,” says Burton’s Events Director Ian Warda. “It’s a true snowboarder’s event that changes as the sport progresses. We’ve seen that over the years with many changes from revamped formats, to new judging systems, and added disciplines. The US Open in Vail continues that tradition of progression and change. We’re constantly working with the riders on course feedback during the design and build process and feel that the possibilities are pretty endless with what we can do here.”

Listening to the riders is one of the best ways to ensure that snowboarding continues to move in the right direction—that’s respecting the past while moving towards the future.

Full coverage starts on Wednesday, March 5. If you’re wondering where Olympic slope champ Sage Kotsenburg is on following confirmed rider list, well, he’s taking a break from the media spotlight to shred some pow. As for Shaun White, he wrapped up a Bad Things show at the Mercury Lounge in New York on Sunday and will be doing stuff other than snowboarding.

While you wait for the 2014 US Open to start take a look back at who won last year

Sochi Olympic silver medalist Ayumu Hirano at the 2013 Burton US Open. PHOTO: Aaron Blatt

Sochi Olympic silver medalist Ayumu Hirano at the 2013 Burton US Open. PHOTO: Aaron Blatt

Confirmed rider list and event schedule on the next page