First place halfpipe qualifiers finisher Stale Sandbech. PHOTO: Jake Stangel

STRATTON, VT (March 17, 2009) The first day of the Burton US Open 2009 Snowboarding Championships kicked off this morning amid balmy temps and bluebird skies at Vermont’s Stratton Mountain Resort. A field of 120 men, whom would be whittled to a mere 10 by the end of the day, was registered and raring to go as they took to the 22’ Planet Snow superpipe.

Session 1, heats one and two dropped alternately in a best of two run pre-qualification round. Christopher Waker and Norway’s Stale Sandbech were looking strong from the start but it was Trevor Jacob, spinning to win and placing first in his heat by starting off with a frontside 1080, followed by a Cab 7, into a frontside inverted 5, followed by backside 5, finishing with a front 7.
Zack Black landed the top spot in the second heat with a run that started off with a huge frontside 9 followed by a backside 7, followed by a ridiculous switch backside inverted 7, finishing with a backside air.

Halfpipe Pre-Qualifications Men Session I
Heat 1
1 Trevor Jacob              USA     FORUM
2 Stale Sandbech          NOR     OAKLEY
3 Jeremy Thompson      USA     FLOW
4 Hunter Wood             USA     NIKE6.0
5 Benjamin Farrow        USA     OKEMO
6 Anthony Donofrio       ITA       BURTON
7 Sage Kotsenburg       USA     QUIKSILVER
8 Spencer Shaw            USA     UNDER ARMOR
9 Scotty Pike               USA     SMITH
10 Josh Warnick            USA     BILLABONG

Halfpipe Pre-Qualifications Men Session I
Heat 2
1 Zack Black                USA     —
2 Christopher Waker      USA     BURTON
3 Brennen Swanson       USA     RIDE
4 Daniel Longo              CAN     —
5 Paul Brichta               USA     BURTON
6 Nick Fuca                  USA     RIDE
7 Tanner Barrett             USA     BUNGER
8 Blake Eddington         USA     SESSIONS
9 Kyle Mack                 USA     BURTON
10 Nicholas Sibayan      USA     BILLABONG

The pipe crew performed a quick maintenance, salting and slipping the pipe which was rapidly eroding in the relentless spring sun, and then it was time for the second session of men to drop. Riders like Ben Watts and Nate Farrell were going huge, but Park City’s Drew Brighton finished first with a run that started with a lofty frontside air, followed by a backside 900, followed by back-to-back 7’s, finishing with an alley-oop backside rodeo. Canadian rider Harrison Gray finished first in his heat with a run consisting of a Michalchuk into a frontside 900, followed by a stylish method air, followed by a frontside 720, finishing with a Cab 720.

Halfpipe Pre-Qualifications Men Session II
Heat 1
1 Drew Brighton            USA     DC
2 Nate Farrell                USA     GNU
3 Ben Watts                 USA     BURTON
4 Petja Piiroinen            FIN       BILLABONG
5 Bryan Daino              USA     SIMS
6 Joseph Mensch          USA     FLOW
7 Nils Mindnich              USA     BURTON
8 Austin Schweyher       USA     SMS
9 Theodore James (TJ) USA     BURTON
10 Carter Smalley          USA     BURTON

Halfpipe Pre-Qualifications Men Session II
Heat 2
1 Harrison Gray            CAN     BURTON
2 Skyler Thomas            USA     NITRO
3 Derek Livingston         CAN     ICARUS SKATE &
4 Connor Leach             USA     OAKLEY
5 Tyler Troy                  USA     TEAM SUMMIT
6 Tim Humphreys          USA     FLOW
7 Tyler Emond              USA     —
8 Dylan Bidez               USA     FLOW
9 Anthony Wolf                        CAN     ICARUS SKATE &
10 Taylor Gold              USA     BURTON

40 men from pre-qualifications advanced on to the afternoon’s qualification round, fighting for one of only ten spots in Saturday’s semifinals, where they will face halfpipe greats like Shaun White, Scotty Lago, Steve Fisher and Kevin Pearce. Top finishers Zack Black and Harrison Gray looked strong in their runs, but Stale Sandbech edged them both out of the top spot with a run that started off with a frontside 540, followed by a backside air, into a frontside 720, followed by a Cab 1080, into a frontside air, backside 900, finishing with an alley-oop backside rodeo.

Halfpipe Qualifications Men
1 Stale Sandbech          NOR     OAKLEY
2 Zack Black                USA    —
3 Harrison Gray             CAN     BURTON
4 Jeremy Thompson      USA     FLOW
5 Tyler Emond               USA    —
6 Nate Farrell                USA     GNU
7 Trevor Jacob              USA     FORUM
8 Derek Livingston         CAN     ICARUS SKATE &
9 Christopher Waker      USA     BURTON
10 Tim Humphreys         USA     FLOW

The US Open action continues tomorrow with men’s slopestyle prequals. The US Open is the last stop on the Burton Global Open Series and offers riders the chance to earn points towards a male and female championship title, each worth $100,000, currently the largest single payout in competitive snowboarding.

The 2009 US Open halfpipe, slopestyle and quarterpipe action can be seen on NBC, Sunday, March 29 from 1:00-2:30 p.m. EST. If you can’t make it to Stratton, watch all of the semi-finals and finals live on March 21 and 22 on Go211.com, where webcasts and highlights of the competitions will also be available for on-demand viewing once the event concludes.

Burton would like to thank Stratton Mountain Resort, Volvo, SoBe, Go211.com, Paul Mitchell, Virgin America, GORE-TEX®, Corona, Emergen-C, Shiseido, R.E.D., ANON, Analog and Gravis for their support of the US Open. For more information on the US Open, head to www.opensnowboarding.com <http://www.opensnowboarding.com/>

Photo Credit: Jake Stangel