Vail, Colorado (February 26, 2019) — The 2019 Junior Jam presented by Clif Bar kicked off the first day of competition at the 37th Annual Burton U·S·OPEN Snowboarding Championships. The field featured 27 of the top boy and girl halfpipe riders ages 14 and under competing in the 22-foot superpipe, in a two-run best run counts format. First place in the girls division went to 13-year-old Brooke D'Hondt (CAN) while boys division winner Valentino Guseli (AUS) took the win after earning second place in 2018. With these wins, D'Hondt and Guseli both earned an equal share of the $2,000 prize purse and the opportunity to compete against the pros in Thursday's halfpipe semi-finals competition.
Valentino Guseli was a favorite coming into today's competition and he lived up to the hype with landing an impressive second run scoring 96.99. Guseli scrubbed his first run and then in true pro style, sent it under pressure on his second and final run linking up a frontside 900 tail, into a backside 900 mute, then a frontside inverted 720 mute, with massive amplitude. Guseli clearly upped his riding level over the previous year, he says, "I've just been snowboarding, having fun and trying to send it and it's finally paid off and I'm so happy!" He adds, "I can't wait to just go and send with the big dogs." He's especially looking forward to riding alongside his hero Scotty James (AUS) in halfpipe semi-finals.
Twelve-year-old Kyu Shimasaki (JPN) also broke into the 90s with a score of 92.87 on his second run wowing the judges in his first Burton U·S·OPEN Junior Jam appearance. Fynn Bullock-Womble (USA) took third with score of 87.37. Shimasaki's nine-year-old little brother, Haku Shimasaki, also competed today, blasting well above the lip and earning cheers from the crowd and a respectable eighth place finish for the youngest Junior Jam competitor.
In the girl's field, Brooke D'Hondt blew away the competition in her inaugural Burton U·S·OPEN Junior Jam appearance earning the top girls score of 82.74. Her winning run included a frontside 540 melon, to a backside 540 Indy, into a frontside 720 melon. Coming out of Canada, D'Hondt is also the reigning 2018 USASA Slope and Pipe National Champion. She says, "I'm really happy with how today went. The pipe was so good, the weather was perfect and it was just so fun competing with all my friends." She adds, "I really wanted to get my seven and I landed it, so I was pretty stoked about that!" Mammoth Mountain's Alexandria Simsovits (USA) took second place with a score of 66.37, followed by Riley Rivera (USA) with a score of 64.25 in third place.
Additionally, the winners of the Clif Bar 'Raise the Bar' award, rewarding two athletes for the best trick of the day's competition, went to the two top finishers—Brooke D'Hondt for her frontside 720 melon and Valentino Guseli for his frontside 900 tail.
The competition marked an incredible exposure opportunity for these young riders with the entire contest webcast live around the world via the live Burton U·S·OPEN webcast with special commentary by 2014 Burton U·S·OPEN halfpipe champion Taylor Gold who will also be competing in Thursday's halfpipe semi-finals.
Boy's Halfpipe Junior Jam Results
- Valentino Guseli (AUS), BURTON, 96.99
- Kyu Shimasaki (JPN), BURTON, 92.87
- Fynn Bullock-Womble (USA), 32 BOOTS, 87.37
Girl's Halfpipe Junior Jam Results
- Brooke D'Hondt (CAN), VANS, 82.74
- Alexandria Simsovits (USA), GNU, 66.37
- Riley Rivera (USA), SHESHREDS CO, 64.25
Competition continues tomorrow Wednesday, February 27th, with the men's and women's slopestyle semi-finals on Vail's Golden Peak with returning champions 2019 X Games Gold Medalist Mark McMorris (CAN) and 2018 Olympic Slopestyle Gold Medalist Jamie Anderson (USA). Also competing will be 2018 Olympic Slopestyle Gold Medalist Red Gerard (USA), 2019 X Games Slopestyle Gold Medalist Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (NZL), Julia Marino (USA), Hailey Langland (USA), Yuki Kadono (JPN), Chris Corning (USA), and Staale Sandbech (NOR) among others gunning to earn a spot in Friday's slopestyle finals.