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The Burton US Open Slopestyle contest might not have featured Olympic gold medallist Sage Kotsenburg (he was apparently recovering from his post-Sochi stint in the eye of the media-storm by shredding powder with his buddy Halldor Helgason) but it did see silver medallist Stale Sandbech and bronze winner Mark McMorris going head to head.
The result was one of the tightest slopestyle comps of the season. One in which the top four threw runs that were so similar they were nearly identical. In fact it was only really the rails and the details of their grabs and tweaks which separated them.
Watching these highlights makes me realise I would not like to be a judge!
[part title="Mark McMorris Massive Run"]
This was the run that won McMorris his second US Open title in a row. A run that saw him get tech on the rails (spinning 450 out ain't easy!) and the kickers (cab 12 anyone?). Not only that, he also went absolutely huge - look how far down the landing he is on his final trick, the triple cork. And it was that in the end which swung it for him.
[part title="Stale Sandbech's Oh So Close Second Place"]
Stale had qualified through from the semi-finals in first and came so close to beating McMorris with this run. Listening to the commentators break down the scores is really interesting here. Stale's tricks were nearly identical to Marks and apparently better executed. His cab 12 certainly looked more stylish. But in the end his flow score - which takes into account how big he went off the kickers - wasn't quite has good. Only 0.3 of a point separated them though - how close is that?
[part title="Max Parrot Aping Mark McMorris' Run"]
This run is so similar to Mark's winning one it's untrue. Literally only the first rail trick is different, although both his cab 12 and his backside triple are slightly more corked. But seriously, whatever the Canadian coaches are feeding these boys, it's obviously working!
[part title="Seb Toots Throwing the Best Triple Cork of the Day"]
Seb Toots had to battle with pretty heavy snow to land this run - look at the way the uneven surface makes him wobble on his second kicker trick, the double cork 10. But this stocky Canadian is one of the most powerful riders in snowboarding and so powered through it to stomp the cleanest, best-executed triple cork of the day. With the top four riders throwing near-identical kicker tricks (cab 12, 1080, backside triple 1440) deciding to put Seb in fourth behind his countryman Max Parrot must have been one of the hardest judging calls to make.
[part title="Roope Tonteri Having the Time of His Life"]
Roope Tonteri is one of Mpora's favourite riders to watch mostly because he never seems to take himself or whatever contest he's riding in too seriously. Check the way he preens his moustache for good luck before dropping in here. And what a run too! He might not have the inverts that the top four did but he matched them rotation for rotation with his front 10, back 12, cab 1440 combo. How you separate that from the others as a judge, I'll never know.
[part title="Jamie Anderson Showing Why She is Indisputably the Best"]
Fresh off the back of her win in the perfect conditions in Sochi, Jamie Anderson rocked up at the US Open and did it again, absolutely dominating the women's field with two runs that were a full 5 points ahead of anything her rivals could muster. She is without doubt, the best woman slopestyle rider ever to step on a board.
[part title="Spencer O'Brien holding on for Second Place"]
Having fallen on her first run Spencer was under a bit of pressure with her second, but put it down cleanly despite the tricky conditions, putting her in second place. She couldn't better the score on her third run, but then neither could anyone else.
[part title="Isabel Derungs Announcing Her Arrival in Style"]
Isabel Derungs has had something of a break-out season this year, posting great results at numerous comps and threatening the podium at both the Olympics and the X Games. The US Open marked the first time she converted that promise into a major event podium finish. Given how strong her run looked (that backside rodeo especially is so sick!) we reckon we'll be seeing her on a few more podiums in the near future.