21_MensPipe_HighFives_NZ_Moran_5828

Mens pipe winners: first Taku Hiraoko, second Greg Bretz, third, Ryo Aono. Photo: Adam Moran

The second annual Burton ‘High Fives’ presented by MINI snowboarding competition, concluded today at Cardrona Alpine Resort in Wanaka, New Zealand with the climactic halfpipe finals. Burton riders, Taku Hiraoka and winner of last year’s Burton High Fives, Kelly Clark, took home US $10,000 each for their impressive winning performances in the 22-foot Olympic standard halfpipe.

Under overcast skies, women were first up in the pipe with the best of three runs format. Starting things off with a bang in her first run was 13 year-old wonder girl and Burton rider, Chloe Kim, setting an early benchmark with 85.80 points. But it was fellow Burton rider Kelly Clark who stomped her second run to come out on top with 89.60 points and the win. Kelly’s run started off with a massive frontside air, backside 540, frontside 1080, Cab 720, and a frontside inverted 720. Nobody else was able to top these two runs, which assured Chloe Kim a second place finish. Coming in third place today was Gretchen Bleiler who put together an amazing come-from-behind final run to score 80.60 points.

11_KellyClarkHighFives_NZ_Moran_5043

Kelly Clark, boosting. Photo: Adam Moran

Kelly Clark came very close to completing her first Cab 10 in competition on her third run. “I was happy with my second run, but glad I pushed it on the third – next time I’ll get that Cab 10,” said Kelly. “It’s always fun doing a competition heading into the Olympics, every four years the level of riding improves so much. The girls really got into it today and were inspiring each other.”

20_WmnsPipe_HighFives_NZ_Moran_5793

Women’s pipe winners: first Kelly Clark, second Chloe Kim, third Gretchen Bleiler. Photo: Adam Moran

In the men’s competition, Greg Bretz  put together a solid first run to take the early lead with 89.40 points. But it was Burton rider Taku Hiraoka’s (JPN) storming second run that propelled him into the winning podium position with 94.80 points. He blasted a backside 540, frontside 1260, backside 900, 1080 double cork and Cab 1080. Fellow Japanese rider Ryo Aono also had a strong second run with a score of 85.00, enough to see him take a third place behind Greg Bretz.

“I felt confident and amped going into my second run,” said Taku Hiraoaka. “I was stoked to stomp another frontside 1260, only the second time I’ve done that in competition. It was a lot of fun and I’m super happy!”

16_GregBretz_HighFives_NZ_Moran_5343

Greg Bretz cruising to second place. Photo: Adam Moran

The amazing week of competition started with a non-traditional approach for a snowboarding event as riders showed off some of their lesser-known talents in a variety of Kiwi-inspired, off-snow team challenges. In the end, Team Road Kill won the overall team challenge award by having the highest number of combined points between the Nokia photo award, the off-hill challenges and the individual snowboarding competitions.  Walking away with $10,000 to split between them, Team Road Kill was made up of captain and local Kiwi Rebecca “Possum” Torr, Benji Farrow, Stefi Luxton, Kyle Mack, and Stale Sandbech.

Prize money today totalled US $35,000 for the Halfpipe, with an additional US $1,000 going to team Road Kill for winning the Nokia Photo Award, and US $10,000 also going to Road Kill for winning the overall Team Challenge. Along with yesterday’s slopestyle awards, this brings the total prize purse for the 2013 Burton High Fives to US $81,000.

Get some more perspective on the pre-Olympic season Burton High Fives compared to the Burton New Zealand Open in 2009 here