Peetu Piiroinen won the 6-star Burton European Open slopestyle competition today, extending his lead at the top of the TTR rankings in the process.
Despite the fact that the likes of Shaun White and last year’s winner Danny Davis hadn’t made the trip over from the US, where they are busy preparing for the Olympics, the competition for the top spots was incredibly fierce.
In fact, it wasn’t until his final run that Peetu managed to squeeze past the eventual second place finisher Mikkel Bang to take his place at the top of the podium.
Straight out of the starting gate, Mikkel threw down what looked like an unbeatable run. His silky smooth jib skills in the top section of the legendary Laax slopestyle course were followed with a run over the kickers that went cab 7, switch backside 12, cab 10.
As well as scoring a 92 for this opening salvo, the 19-year-old Norwegian had made every trick look super comfortable. After watching the others’ runs, many (including us at Whitelines) assumed he was a shoe-in for the top spot.
However, it was not to be. Peetu had thrown down a relatively impressive run first time round, but sketched one of his landings badly on the second attempt – something you rarely ever see with the Finn. But on the third run, he stomped his run of backside 10 late cork, front 9 to cab 10 so cleanly that the judges decided to give him the win.
Despite the battle between these two snowboarding titans, this contest was far from a two-horse race. The young Norwegian Gjermund Braaten, who finished third, repeatedly threatened to unseat the two Burton riders sitting at the top. His super-stylish run – which included a backside rodeo off the tiny pole-jam near the top of the course – earned him 87.83.
Other riders were also looking dangerous, including Iouri Podlatchikov, who, if he had landed his run of back seven, double back rodeo nine and cab ten, could well have claimed a podium spot.
Amongst the rest of the top 16 there were some seriously impressive performances – not least from our very own Jamie Nicholls who, after killing it all week, really stepped up. He stomped his run cleanly as anything twice, with his impressive consistency and style earning him a well-deserved 13th place. Not bad for a lad who at 16 was the youngest rider in the final!
The fact that Jamie can ride with such calm and maturity on such a big occassion mark him out as a serious contender for podium places in a few years time. His sevens and nines, as well as his super-steezy backside five off the pole jam, had the commentators – including Cheryl Maas – singing his praises.
Other notable performances included the veteran Markku Koski’s assured steeze and the Swiss rider Stephan Maurer, who for some reason insisted on riding the entire competition on a Burton Fish!
The long, swallow-tailed board is built for powder and can’t really be ridden switch. But this didn’t seem to bother Maurer, whose run included all the jibs as well as an impressive double backflip and a frontside ten! According to his teammate Chris Sorman, who was commentating, that final trick won him a bet with the Burton team manager, who will be buying Maurer’s drinks in the bar tonight!
All in all, the contest was a seriously impressive one, and the absence of the Americans didn’t seem to hold back the level of riding on display at all. It’s been billed as “The Greatest Show in Europe” and we can safely say that the Burton European Open has not disappointed so far. Bring on the halfpipe finals tomorrow!