The Garnier Fructis Australian Open 2007 officially kicked off yesterday with the Men’s Halfpipe Pre-Qualification round. A field of 35 riders was boiled down to 20, who will be competing in Saturday’s Halfpipe Semi-Finals with a host of invited riders including Louie Vito, Mason Aguirre, Andy Finch and Kazu Kokubo. Despite the slow conditions in the pipe due to fresh snow on the ground, riders still managed to throw down and go big. Local boy, Nathan Johnstone of Sydney placed first with a run the started off with a front 7 stalefish, followed by a Cab 3 melon, into a front 5, followed by a back 9 mute, into an ally-oop and finishing off with a rodeo 5. Second place went to Michal Ligocki from Poland who put together a solid run that started with a big backside air into a front 7 melon, followed by a Cab 7 into front 3 and finished off with a Cab 9. Japan’s Kosuke Hosokawa finished in the 3rd slot with a run that began with a front 7 into a Cab 3, followed by a Lien air, and into a back 5 followed by a front 5. The Aussies dominated the field, 11 of the 20 riders that are moving onto the Semi-Finals are from Australia.

1 75 Nathan Johnstone AUS Sydney RIPCURL 81.75

2 73 Michal Ligocki POL Cieszyn ROSSIGNOL 75.75

3 66 Kosuke Hosokawa JPN Sapporo KISSMARK 72.75

4 99 Andrew Burton AUS Glendale BOLLE 70.25

5 90 Jarryd Williams AUS Mt Eliza NITRO 69.25

6 232 Drew Brighton USA Park City HEAD 68.75

7 103 Ben Mates AUS Jindabyne SMITH 66.75

8 96 Toni-Markus Turunen FIN Jyvà¤skylठKISSMARK 66.25

9 61 Josh Warnick USA Mammoth Lakes NITRO 58.75

10 74 Sam Murphy AUS Canberra FORCE 57.75

11 98 Scott James AUS Warrandyte GNU 53.25

12 110 Jason Maxfield AUS Goughs Bay LIB TECH 50.00

13 41 Scot Brown CAN Clarksburg FLOW 47.25

14 76 Harrison Gray CAN Newmarket BURTON 46.50

15 42 Zak Stone CAN Laurel Blvd. VOLCOM 40.75

16 89 Matthew Hunter AUS South Durras SALOMON 35.25

17 45 Garrett Warnick USA Mammoth Lakes BILLABONG 34.50

18 102 Bryan Taylor AUS Melbourne RPS THE 25.50

19 65 Marcin Orlowski AUS Maylands Perth MAINPEAK 22.00

20 101 Ben Randall AUS Sydney RHYTHM 21.00

Thursday was a perfect day for riding; the skies were clear, the weather was warm and there was no wind to speak of. The Men’s Slopestyle Pre-Qualification round kicked off this morning with 60 riders vying for a mere 15 spots. The competition was comprised of 2 Heats with 30 riders a piece, being narrowed down to 15 in all; the top five riders were taken from each heat, the top 5 scores thereafter were moving on to tomorrow’s semi-final slopestyle competition. For the second day in a row Nathan Johnstone took the top spot making his fellow Aussies proud. Nathan started off his run with a backside lipslide on the down rail, followed by a 50/50 to noseslide on the box gap feature, he then threw back-to-back 5’s, followed by a back 3 tailgrab and finished with a backside 7. Drew Brighton placed 2nd by starting things off with a backside lipslide on the first rail, in to a 50/50 boardslide to fakie on the gap box, followed by back-to-back 5’s, into a crail, and finished with a frontside 720 stalefish. Melbourne’s Mikey Williams finished with the 3rd highest score of the day with a backside lipslide, followed by a 50/50 to nosepress, followed by a switch backside 5 off the first kicker, a big truckdriver off the second hit, followed by a front 7 and finishing with a backside 180 mute grab.

1 75 Nathan Johnstone AUS RIPCURL 84.00

2 232 Drew Brighton USA HEAD 82.17

3 192 Mikey Williams AUS FORUM 79.67

4 143 Mike Osachuk CAN ARBOR 76.67

5 62 Cohen Davies AUS DRAGON 77.67

6 41 Scot Brown CAN FLOW 74.67

7 95 Logan Short CAN OAKLEY 72.83

8 111 Andrew Lloyd AUS ROME 65.67

9 97 Jaakko Ruha FIN KISSMARK 65.50

10 42 Zak Stone CAN VOLCOM 63.83

11 96 Toni-Markus Turunen FIN KISSMARK 62.67

12 142 Daniel Kroenert AUS SEMANTICS 57.67

13 73 Michal Ligocki POL ROSSIGNOL 53.33

14 87 Jye Kearney AUS BURTON 52.83

15 144 DDennis Boungiorno USA GNU 52.67

The action heats up in slopestyle tomorrow when both men and women take to the course for the Semi-Final and Final competitions. Be sure to check out for live scoring and daily updates.