LAKE WANAKA, New Zealand (August 15, 2009) New Zealand's largest snowboarding event, the Burton New Zealand Open Snowboarding Championships, came to a close today after four intense days of competition. Part of the Burton Global Open Series and the Swatch Ticket To Ride World Snowboard Tour, the 7th Annual New Zealand Open showcased some the world's top snowboarders competing in halfpipe and slopestyle competitions for over NZ$50,000 in prize money.
Hundreds of competitors from all over the world flocked to Cardrona Alpine Resort to compete, and action got underway on Wednesday with men's and women's slopestyle pre-qualifications and qualifications. Men's and women's halfpipe qualifications went down on Thursday, followed by men's and women's slopestyle semifinal and finals on Friday with Jamie Anderson (USA) and Sebastien Toutant (CAN) riding away with the top spots worth $6,000 each.
Saturday saw a field of 40 men and 21 women compete for the halfpipe titles worth NZ$6,000. In the women's competition Kelly Clark and Jiayu Liu battled it out in semifinals with huge amplitude and clean spins, while Elizabeth Beerman just bumped Kiwi Kendall Brown from advancing on to final. Louie Vito placed first in the men's semifinal competition, followed closely by Luke Mitrani in second and Shaun White in third.
Halfpipe finals consisted of three runs each for men and women, with the women first to drop. The Asian contingent finished strong taking four of the top eight spots in the women's finals, with Zhifeng Sun from China taking third. Her winning run featured an impressive frontside 900. Jiayu Liu (CHN) rode away with second with a run that featured back-to-back 720s and back-to-back 540s. But it was Kelly Clark that pulled it out with a whopping score of 83.67. Her winning run started with a massive frontside air followed by a backside 540 indy, into a frontside 720 tailgrab, followed by a Cab 720, finishing with a frontside 540 indy. Clark had this to say of her win, "I felt really good today; I got to try new things. I like progressing, and when you ride against a solid group of competitors it pushes me to do more. I'm happy that I did well for my first contest of the summer, especially going in to an Olympic year."
History was made today during the men's halfpipe finals. The best and most progressive riding ever witnessed went down, the crowd and judges were blown away by the double cork and spin combinations they were seeing. Kazuhiro Kokubo finished in third with a run that featured a huge McTwist, a frontside 900 tailgrab, an alleyoop chuck nose grab, and a frontside 1080 indy. Luke Mitrani took second with a run that included a double inverted 900 melon, a frontside 720 indy, a Cab 720 mute and a frontside 900 tailgrab. But it was Shaun White who was able to come from behind in semifinals to win the $6,000 top spot. His winning run started with a frontside lien air, to backside 900 melon, followed by a frontside 1080 stalefish, into a Cab double cork 1080 stalefish, to frontside double cork 900. No one was more pleased with the win than White himself, as he had this to say of his victory, "I'm proud to win today. This was the heaviest event that I have ever been in. That's saying a lot, as I have been in a lot of these. "
With the Burton New Zealand Open finished, the next stop in the BGOS is the European Open, taking place January 9-16, 2010 in Laax, Switzerland. The European Open is the second stop on the 2009-2010 Burton Global Open Series. Jamie Anderson and Mason Aguirre are currently in the lead for the Burton Global Open Series Championship titles and a piece of the $200,000 prize purse.
With his third result of the 09/10 season, Mason Aguirre takes over the top position on the Swatch TTR World Snowboard Tour followed by Sebastien Toutant in second and Charles Reid in third. Jamie Anderson maintains her lead of the women’s ranking. With only two results on her account so far, 08/09 Swatch TTR World Champion Kelly Clark moves into world no. 7 with her victory in New Zealand.
Halfpipe Final Women
1 Kelly Clark USA Burton
2 Jiayu Liu CHN Burton
3 Zhifeng Sun CHN Burton
Best Trick: Elizabeth Beerman, Frontside 900
Halfpipe Final Men
1 Shaun White USA Burton
2 Luke Mitrani USA Burton
3 Kazuhiro Kokubo JPN Burton
Best Trick: Luke Mitrani, Double Michalchuk
Burton would like to thank Cardrona Alpine Resort, Go211.com, Speight's Summit Golden Lager, Juice TV, The Edge FM, Anon Optics, High Cascade Snowboard Camp, Nature Valley, goodbars.co.nz, Joe's Garage, SolRX, McKenna, Smirnoff Ice Double Black and Swatch TTR World Snowboard Tour for their support of the New Zealand Open.