All photos: Nick Hamilton
Chicken salad, roast beef--these were some of the old school grabs that Taylor Gold was throwing into tricks like a Cab 1080 and crippler on his way to winning the 2014 Burton US Open pipe. Exactly how much those grabs helped him win is hard to say, because he was also going absolutely massive and stomping double corks, but they're a crucial part of how pipe riders can continue to do technical tricks while keeping an element of style. When asked why he chose those grabs Taylor said, "I just saw Danny [Davis] and Sage [Kotsenburg] doing different stuff and I wanted to do as much as I could to make my riding a little bit different. I'm just so stoked that I was able to put them into my run."
Taylor Gold’s winning run
Other riders like Yiwei Zhang also mixed it up with a Cab 1080 double cork stalefish to mute, while Taku Hiraoka did a Cab double cork 1080 taipan on one of his runs. These grabs may seem like a subtle difference in the tricks but it's a sign that riders are trying to break away from stock grabs like mutes and indys. Aside from setting riders’ apart stylistically, Taylor says that the grabs he did are also harder. Sage won Olympic slopestyle with a Cab Double Cork 1260 Holy Crail and a frontside 1080 crossrocket, so as long as judges continue to recognize that these kinds of grabs make tricks more difficult and reward the riders who combine them with technical tricks there will more incentive to innovate.
Taku Hiraoka’s second place run
On the matter of style, there was plenty of it to go around today not only from the competitors but from the poachers. A long-standing tradition at the US Open, riders who didn't make the finals, coaches, or industry members who can legitimately boost above lip all dropped in between contest runs to get their own piece of the action, which is normally impossible at any other event. When poachers Scotty Lago, Danny Davis, and Terje started a train through the pipe they drew some of the biggest cheers of the day from the crowd as they launched massive straight airs. Other notable poachers included Billy Anderson, James Jackson, Benji Farrow, and Greg Bretz.
When the actual competitors did take their runs, Japanese Olympic bronze medalist Taku Hiraoka picked up second place and the title of World Snowboard Tour Halfpipe Champion. Switzerland's David “Swiss Dave” Habluetzel got third but it all could have been a different story if Yiwei landed any of his full runs, which included four double corks. Ben Ferguson was close to a podium spot as well with a monster double crippler poke on his first hit that would have got best trick if that were a category.
David Habluetzel’s third place run
(Note: Taylor did six tricks in his run but Taku and David did five. With the SLS scoring system the top four tricks go towards a rider’s trick score while all tricks count towards the flow score. This encourages riders not to hold back from doing more tricks that would otherwise lower their average against a rider who did less tricks.)
2014 Burton US Open Women's Pipe Final Results
1. Taylor Gold -- 87.63
2. Taku Hiraoka -- 86.88
3. David Habluetzel -- 83.23
4. Ben Ferguson -- 77.93
5. Kent Callister -- 77.58
6. Gabe Ferguson -- 73.10
7. Jake Pates -- 73.00
8. Louie Vito -- 68.28
9. Christian Haller -- 67.38
10. Yiwei Zhang -- 62.03