24-year-old USA-born Andy Finch has taken the bull by the horns and, against a younger, but competitive rival, Shaun White, takes charge of the 2004/2005 “Ticket to Ride Professional Freestyle Snowboarding Tour. Finch indisputably won Saturdays Halfpipe final at the Laax-based Burton European Open against fellow countryman Kier Dillon and Swiss local star Nicolas Mueller.

The win secures Finch his third consecutive TTR Pro Series Title. He won both the Nissan X-Trail Jam (www.x-trailjam.net/en/index.html) and the The ONeill SB-Jam (www.sb-jam.com) last month. The result puts him ahead of 17-year-old Shaun White on current season TTR Pro Series wins. White, who, after winning the Nokia Air and Style Snowboard Festival (www.air-style.com) in December, took his second TTR Pro Series event win at “The Honda Session presented by Salomon, last weekend in Vail, Colorado-USA (www.sessionvail.com).

The Burton European Open 2005, held in Switzerlands snowboarding mecca, Laax, kicked off last Saturday, and although hampered by the most demanding weather conditions ranging from snow droughts and spring-like temperatures to 140km/h snow storms, a powerful show of professional freestyle snowboarding was displayed. Spectators witnessed the worlds most progressive Juniors and world class professional men and women athletes compete in both Slopestyle and Halfpipe disciplines. With prize money of 125,000 USD at stake, the 480 riders pushed the combined level of showmanship and competitiveness to electric levels.

Parallel to the prestige of the Burton European Open Snowboarding Championships title, two Tickets to Ride (TTR) to the end of season TTR Pro Series event, The Arctic Challenge (www.the-arctic-challenge.com) were allocated, one for Halfpipe and one for Slopestyle. As is customary on the TTR Tour, the medals are awarded to podium-placed finalists who have not yet won a TTR medallion in a previous TTR Pro Series event. Finch and Mueller already hold tickets.

TTR Medallions Winners at Burton European Open 2005

Kier Dillon, (USA), Burton (1 Ticket)

Chris Sorman, (SWE), Quiksilver (1 Ticket)

Burton European Open 2005, Juniors
The Junior snowboarders displayed a level of performance that set new standards for the future of the sport. In both the Slopestyle and Halfpipe disciplines, the 60 Juniors from 13 nations battled relentlessly for the limited podium places.

It was Finlands Peetu Piiroinen and Russias Iouri Podladtchikov who shone against their rivals and secured the Slopestyle and Halfpipe Junior Burton European Open titles with Finlands Jusso Laivisto, rising to the podium on both occasions.

Laivisto, at the tender age of 16, is yet another success story to TTRs Qualifying Event (TTRQE) tour strategy, in which young talents progress into the TTR Pro Series via TTR-sanctioned qualification events, Laivisto won his Ticket to Ride at the Burton European Open during a Finnish TTR Qualifying Event, The Malmi and Oksanen Invitational.

Switzerlands Sina Candrian took both the Burton European Open Slopestyle and Halfpipe Junior Girls Titles. At sweet 16, Candrian arrived as a virtual unknown, and went home happy, 7,000 USD richer, with media and sponsors lining up to document

For full event summary and results:

The next TTR Pro Series event:
Location: Leysin, Switzerland
Date: 3rd-6th February, 2005
Contest: Slopestyle
TTR Tickets: Slopestyle (1 Ticket)
Official Web Site: www.nescafechamps.ch