The 28th edition of the Burton US Open got serious this afternoon, with the men's slopestyle semi-finals causing some big upsets before tonight's final.
After a week which has seen all-comers qualifying through the first few rounds of the open format competiton, the semi-final rider list was a nice mix of big names, known unknowns and (to steal a phrase from the evil Mr Rumsfeld) unknown unknowns.
When the second rider to drop in, a young yank called Eric Beauchemin (who we'd never even heard of!) throws down back-to-back sevens and a double backside rodeo, you know the standard is going to be high!
The rest of the afternoon's action didn't disappoint, and despite the fact that Stratton Mountain seems to be experiencing something of a heatwave, the park designers had allowed more than enough space between features for riders to get enough speed and throw down.
While most of the big names made it through, earning themselves a top 16 finish and a place in the finals, the young guns managed to claim a couple of big scalps as well. While Beauchemin himself unfortunately failed to make the top 16, several other riders who aren't exactly household names finished highly - Canadian Jason Dubois landed a sick second run to qualify in 12th, with young American Julius Nicholas finishing just two spots behind him.
Meanwhile Eric Willet, who took the gold at the European X-Games in Tignes last week failed to make the cut, as did Olympic bronze medallist Scotty Lago and last Friday's X-Games halfpipe champion Iuori Podlatchikov! But while it was a bit of a shock to see the likes of I-Pod go down on both his runs the top of the leaderboard did contain some familiar faces.
Sebastien Toutant, returning for his first major comp since he shattered his ankle at the Air & Style back in December, put down a typically solid run that included his signature 'Tootsie Roll' (a backside 10 double cork) to claim seventh place.
Despite throwing down a super-clean sequence of cab 9, double backflip and a late-corked 1080, Marko Grilc finished one place below Toots - a result even the commentators Andy Finch and T. Bird felt was slightly unjust. He had gone bigger than almost anyone else, and stomped everything! Peetu meanwhile qualified in solid style, as did Chas Guldemond, who threw a massive backside rodeo into his run off the final pole jam obstacle.
The run of the day though had to go to Ulrik Badertscher. While we know him as 'the dude who stomped the 1620' (whatever you think of it!) it appeared neither Finch nor T. Bird had ever heard of him. However, the Norwegian wasn't going to let his lack of name recognition bother him one bit, whipping out a super-solid first run that catapulted him to the top of the leaderboard. Instead of taking it easy after that, Ulrik if anything got more crazy on his second run, destroying the kickers and going for a double frontflip off the pole jam to finish!
With riding like that, you can be pretty sure that whatever happens in tonight's final, it's gonna be sick. Here's the rider list... check out the action on go211.com or opensnowboarding.com and look out for more updates and videos throughout the day.
Finals Rider List
1 Ulrik Badertscher NOR
2 Tyler Flanagan USA
3 Jeremy Thompson USA
4 Janne Korpi FIN
5 Chas Guldemond USA
6 Gjermund Braaten NOR
7 Sebastien Toutant CAN
8 Marko Grilc SLO
9 Mark McMorris CAN
10 Mikkel Bang NOR
11 Peetu Piiroinen FIN
12 Jason Dubois CAN
13 Stale Sandbech NOR
14 Nicholas Julius USA
15 Charles Reid CAN
16 Tore Holvik NOR