Click here for a Quicktime video clip of the Men’s top three

Saturday, March 16 marked the twentieth of Burton’s annual U.S. Open halfpipe competitions–and unlike bags stuffed with six-packs, the event’s spirit of progression wasn’t kept out by security guards. Finnish rider Markku Koski made snowboarding history with the execution of the first ever cab 1440 in competition, both Danny Kass and Koski pulled off back-to-back 1080s, and Nicola Thost dropped in on a frontside 720 to cab 720 combination in the women’s event.

Unfortunately for most, the view from the keg tent only afforded the last hit in the pipe–where revelers could easily catch Markku’s 1440 but missed out on heaps of other technical action. Unlike certain editors of other snowboard publications, however, the brave TransWorld staff ventured beyond the confines of the tent to hang with the crowd and take in the progressive stunts being thrown down in the Stratton pipe.

Different from the Grand Prix and Vans Triple Crowns, the judging was based on a one-hour jam in which riders were scored by several overall impression judges on at least four runs. Those who mixed things up and covered all the bases did the best. So despite what could have been winning back-to-back sevens on Nicola Thost’s first run, she was kept out of the top five because she only did two runs. But some other women were ruling it, too, like France’s Doriane Vidal, who rode powerfully all day with big airs and some head-high frontside seven liens. Tricia Byrnes surprised her hometown crowd with a new trick combo: frontside seven into a switch 540, as well as stomping a McTwist on her last run. The previous evening’s quarterpipe champ Kelly Clark came clean again with her corked backside fives for the win, but Norwegian Kjersti Buaas from Norway was giving the Olympic medalist a run for her money on amplitude.

Keir Dillon hands down went the biggest; pulling McTwists that rivaled his stunts at the Sims Worlds last year. But with all the 1080-action going down, Keir’s Haakon 720s and Wet Cat nines weren’t enough for the gold medal. Markku Koski will definitely be a force to be reckoned with in the next few years. He has sick style and is probably one of the only riders out there who could make something over three rotations look good and not like some crazy gymnastics stunt. And Italian Stallion Giacomo Kratter launched himself into a tangle of lofty corked spins, among them the cab 1080.

Danny Kass took time out from signing autographs for adoring thirteen year old girls to pull off moves unprecedented for him this contest season–including corked alley-oop sevens and the previously mentioned back to back 1080s. There was truly a ton of sweet riding out there, but judges wanted to see variety, and Danny delivered. And so, after three lucky girls from the crowd competed for a date with Giacomo Kratter, the awards ceremony got underway–and to help Danny accept his twenty grand, a cardboard cutout of Roy Rodgers accompanied him up on stage.

Men

1 Daniel KASS USA
2 Markku KOSKI FIN
3 Keir DILLON USA
4 Andy FINCH USA
5 Daniel FRANCK NOR
6 Giacomo KRATTER ITA
7 Therry BRUNNER SUI
8 Ross POWERS USA
9 Vinzenz LUEPS GER
10 Luke WYNEN USA

Women

1 Kelly CLARK USA
2 Tricia BYRNES USA
3 Stine BRUN KJELDAAS NOR
4 Kjersti BUAAS NOR
5 Doriane VIDAL FRA
6 Natasza ZUREK CAN
7 Lisa HEGERTUN WIIK NOR
8 Maelle RICKER CAN
9 Anne M. KONGSGAARD NOR
10 Nicola THOST GER