It was survival of the fittest in today’s Superpipe semi-finals and finals. After sixteen inches fell overnight, riders got a chance to freeride as the event was delayed for an early morning Zaugg Pipe Monster grooming. The walls were perfect, but the flat bottom had some bumps and pow turns waiting to throw riders down. The main victim of the day was amplitude. Speed-robbing bumps and patches trapped even the best riders. After his first run, we thought Travis Rice would be locking in a podium spot, but he got beaten down on the final hit. Last we saw him, he was in an armsling headed to Stratton Village St. Patty’s day festivities.

Third place finisher Markus Malin (Salomon rider from Finland) caught everyone by surprise; his under-the-radar run was definitely technical, with a frontside 7, Cab 7, front 9, back 5, and a Cab 9. It just goes to show that the judges were on it today. Danny Davis’ second run put him in second. It included back-to-back 1080s, nosegrab, back-to-back 900s, to a front 7, and Cab 7. But it was Burton’s Shaun White with a new nickname and unleashed amplitude that won it today. It took three consistent runs of back to back 10s and 9s to seal the deal … but he had it on the second run when he combined speed and amplitude with a front 1080, Cab 1080, front 900, back 900, front 720, and a switch alley oop backside rodeo 7 for his high score. According to The Dingo, Shaun has moved on from “the flying tomato” to “the animal.” (The story goes that a Top Gun Sergeant called him an animal after Shaun, with new sponsor Red Bull, took a fighter plane out for some high Gs and loops).

Kelly Clark also powered through the flatbottom chunder to take the top spot with a frontside air, backside air, front 5, front 7, and a Cab 360. First place gets her $20,000 and a new Motorola phone. Gretchen maintained a respectable second, throwing in trickery like a big Crippler, front 7, and a front 9. And Torah Bright was in third with a back five on the first hit to her sick air to fakie, and leading into a technical switch backside five further down the pipe.

Two-Hundred Thousand Dollars-the largest single payout in snowboarding history.Tonight’s pipe victories were overshadowed by the bigger story: the year-long international Burton Global Open Series with Motorola came to an end tonight after stops in New Zealand, Switzerland, Japan, and here at Stratton, Vermont. Torah Bright nearly fainted when she was told before the awards show about her Global Open victory-$100,000 bucks! Her first place victory at the Nippon Open in halfpipe combined with this weekend’s second and third place victories put her squarely in first. Shaun White fueled-up his chances with first and second place finishes at the Nippon Open … but his third and first place finishes here sealed the deal.

It’s The Open So There Will Be Weather

The nighttime Big Air was canceled due to high winds. Pennywise couldn’t make it because the snowstorms closed the airport. I guess we’re all stuck here. Hopefully the ten-percent rule is still in effect for Torah and Shaun … the Village will be going off!

MEN’S SUPERPIPE RESULTS
1. Shaun White, 94.75
2. Danny Davis, 88
3. Markus Malin, 79.50
4. Kevin Pearce, 79
5. Antti Autti, 77.75
6. Brad Martin, 76.50
7. Louie Vito, 75.75
8. Keir Dillon, 75
9. Therry Brunner, 74.25
10. Kodai Watanabe, 72.50
11. Michael Goldschmidt, 69.50
12. Mason Aguirre, 67.50
13. Steve Fisher, 63.75
14. Travis Rice, 61.75
15. Trevor Jacob, 58
16. Tyler Troy, 47.75

WOMEN”S SUPERPIPE RESULTS
1. Kelly Clark, 88.74
2. Gretchen Bleiler, 85
3. Torah Bright, 84.75
4. Manuela Laura Pesko, 79.50
5. Soko Yamaoka, 69.50
6. Mercedes Nicoll, 67
7. Clair Bidez, 56.50
8. Tricia Byrnes, 47.25

Nintendo Best TrickBest trick ($5,000 bucks and a Wii) went to style tonight. We were impressed by the 1260 that Canadian Rossi rider Brrad Martin threw on his first hit, but it was those big, drifty, tweaked out air to fakies that Michael Goldschmidt busted up top that the judges loved. It’s nice to see a style trick beat out a technical one every now and then isn’t it? Torah Bright’s air to fakie also won best trick … but we have seen her do those a lot bigger at other comps this year.

Tune In: Watch the 90-minute US Open show on NBC this Sunday, March 18 at 1:00-2:30 p.m.