Pipe Finals At The Burton European Open
Word by Jason Horton
Photos by Frode Sandbech
Springtime conditions held out just long enough to ensure deep tans and maximum amplitude in a pipe that was soft enough to be fun, but not too slushy to be sketchy. Riders would each do three runs, judged according to the new system introduced at the WSC 2012 last month in Oslo, that awards a maximum of 15 points for each of four best hits, with an overall flow score of 40 bringing the total to a maximum of 100 points. The live score for each hit is shown on the replay, along with its ranking in relation to the other riders, making the breakdown very clear.
The ladies kicked off first, and once again Kelly Clark dominated from the outset. No surprises there: Kelly remains unbeaten now for an amazing 19 consecutive contests. After nailing her first run to establish pole position, she went on to improve on it in the second with a massive 1080 to finish with a massive 91.45. And, once again, Gretchen Bleiler made it very clear that she's determined to end Kelly's dominance as soon as possible: sitting in 2nd place after the second round she went for it in the third, launching a huge frontside 9 to backside 9 combo, but decking horribly on the 2nd hit. Huge props to Gretchen for getting back on her feet after that one. The rest of the field lagged a bit behind these two American girls, but Japan's Yuki Furihata came closest for third.
After yesterday's semis, the crowd had a good idea of what to expect in the men's: a three-way showdown between Iouri Podlatchikov, Danny Davis and Japan's Ryo Aono, and that's what they got. Local hero Christian Haller put in a banging double 1080 combo first run to get into pole position early, but as the rounds progressed he gradually slipped down the leaderboard. Ryo Aono overtook him in the second round with a frontside 10, Cab 10, fronstise 9 backside 9 run that was maybe the highest, cleanest run of the contest. Danny Davis's Cab 10, frontside 9, backside 5, frontside 10, Alleyoop backside Rodeo 7 had a that little bit of extra style and variety to overtake Ryo. But, once again Ipod's insane technical difficulty and clean execution got the job done for the Swiss-Russian hybrid in the second: FS 9, BS 9, FS double cork 10 to Cab double cork 10 is pretty hard to argue with. With the final round being run in reverse order, Ipod knew he had it in the bag and dropped into a badass victory lap, laying down a couple of lofty Methods that delivered the kind of style that is currently surplus to requirements in the world of modern halfpipe contests.
1st: Kelly Clark
2nd: Gretchen Bleiler
3rd: Yuki Furihata
1st: Iouri Podladtchikov
2nd: Danny Davis
3rd: Ryo Aono