TWSNOW.com is more than live right now-we’re seventeen hours into the future! While you were sleeping last night, the world’s top riders were dropping in at the Nippon Open, the third stop of the Burton Open Tour. This is the last stop before the US Open where the season’s overall Open winners will be named … and payed. The Nippon Open consists of Superpipe and Park Style events. Today was the park event with a 45-foot kicker and a big old hip. It’s actually a super sick format for an event. The top eight women and sixteen men earned their spots during Thursday’s qualifiers in balmy conditions. Today’s temps dropped and firmed things up, but the sun kept it in the safe zone.
There’s no better place than Japan to build a huge hip. It’s the best feature to showcase Japanese riders at their best-going huge. Fumiyuki Murakami and Masaaki Hagiwara were favorites for the most balls-out massive straight airs … the kind you watch hoping the cat lands on its’ feet. And they did. Well, except for another Japanese rider KJ, who attempted a triple backflip on the jump and came up short dislocating his shoulder. The men’s finals were swept by the Frends, Mason Aguirre, Shaun White, and in first Kevin Pierce … finally! Kevin pulled it off on the last of his three runs, a Cab nine over the kicker, reverting out to a Gi-Gan-Tic Cab seven on the hip-he described it as kind of like a Haakon seven. It was enough to send the enthusiastic crowd into Bonsai cheers. This victory is coming off his recent victory at the Toyota Big Air which he won with a Cab 10. He attributes his recent winning streak to just riding a lot with Danny and Shaun. Speaking of Shaun, he nailed his run on his second try, linking a Cab 1080 to a Cab seven on the hip. He’s still recovering from a very bum back ankle that he tweaked during a night pipe shoot last week, and he was definitely limping after overshooting a Cab nine on his first run somehow sticking it in the last millimeter of transition. Mason took the final podium spot with a switch backside nine and a nice big backside air. Not bad for the man of many talents like, oh say, Karaoke. Mason kept the party going the night before in the Sauna Karaoke room killing the ladies with his rendition of Backstreet Boys “I Want It That Way” without once looking at the screen.
Back on the slopes in the girls division, Torah was spinning confident front threes to backside threes all day. Cheryl Maas nailed her first run with a huge seven to a nice Indy but for some reason she didn’t make the final three-bummer. Hannah Beaman was the obvious winner throughout all three runs. Her first run was a backside five to an appropriate Japan air on the hip. She followed that with a back seven to a mute stiffy. Izumi Amaike stood out for her huge airs all day. In fact she went down super hard in practice overshooting the first jump, but she recovered and linked a Cab five on the jump with huge straight airs below-the definite crowd favorite. Kelly Clark took second with backside threes and a nice method below.
We’re all in Japan, and it’s frickin’ awesome: Karaoke, Sapporo, sushi, the whole deal. Check back tomorrow for results from the Superpipe.
1. Kevin Pierce
2. Shaun White
3. Mason Aguirre
1. Hannah Beaman
2. Kelly Clark
3. Izumi Amaike