New Zealand's biggest international snowboarding event saw a field of 40 men and 21 women step up and compete for the overall title of Burton NZ Open champion at Snow Park NZ today.
In the women's competition Kelly Clark (USA) again ruled the roost in the semi finals, showing why she has dominated this event for so long with the highest score of the day – 86.50. Hot on her heels was 16-year-old Jiayu Liu from China making her first appearance on the BGOS while yesterday's slopestyle champion, Jamie Anderson (USA) scraped into the finals by the skin of her teeth in eighth place.
All was to change when finals time came round. On Anderson's first run she pulled out an amazing 84.25 score which also earned her best trick with an inverted backside 540 and allowed her to hold her lead throughout the finals. Clark never quite found her form from the semis and while her amplitude was huge, a couple of missed grabs and a fall saw her slip into third place. Meanwhile Liu tenaciously held on to her second place with her phenomenal amplitude that has been present throughout the competition. A talking point of the Open has been the emergence of some huge talent from China. This is the first time they've had a team at the Open and the level of riding displayed promises an interesting future for this emerging snowboarding nation.
The Japanese contingent were super strong throughout the men's semi finals taking six of the finals spots including Ryo Aono in second. Janne Korpi (FIN) took the top qualifying spot with fellow countryman Markus Malin in third. However, only Malin was to make it to the podium. Kazuhiro Kokubo (JPN) and Daisuke Murakami rose up the field with strong high amplitude runs to take first and third respectively.
The top three riders were given an additional chance to improve their scores in a fourth run superfinal. The women's superfinals didn't alter the rankings with Anderson holding onto first and a double NZ Open title. Daisuke Murakami put together the run of the day but a fall on the last hit allowed Kazuhiro to hold on to first with a score of 92.50. However Murakami got best trick with his frontside 1080 tailgrab.
Said Kokubo of his win –"I tried to create my own style of riding; I didn't just want to win, I wanted to do it in style!"
Top ranked NZ male, James Hamilton stepped up his riding from last season to take eighth place. His overseas training showed in his performance during the Open and his riding is now on a world level, to the point that his performance has put him as number one in the BGOS Ranking and third on the Swatch TTR rankings. Top placed NZ females were Juliane Bray in fifth and Kendall Brown in sixth.
Other Swatch TTR ranking changes include Chas Guldemond earning enough points to take over the number one spot, despite not making it through to the finals. Mikkel Bang went down eight ranks to World No. 9 and Janne Korpi takes second. Jamie Anderson defends her title while Kelly Clark moves into World No. 5, up three ranks since yesterday. Sina Candrian climbed the rankings into second followed by Ellery Hollingsworth in third.