Words & Photos by Tristan
Big guns Peetu Piiroinen and Kelly Clark won the Burton European Open Halfpipe titles today. That might seem like a reasonably predictable result, but there was nothing inevitable about either win. Kelly Clark was run close by some uper-stylish riding from the rest of the field, including Spain’s Queralt Castellet, and young Japanese kid Yuki Furihata, who finished second and third respectively. Meanwhile Peetu (incredibly!) fell on both his first and second runs, only pulling it out of the bag right at the end when the pressure was really on. In classic Peetu style, he modestly claimed: “Oh. Well, I was quite surprised. I thought Iuori [Podlatchikov, who came third] and Kazu [Kokubo, who came second] did more technical runs than me.” But Peetu was going huge, and with the new Snowboard Live Scoring system (which awards a score for overall flow) technicality isn’t everything. As Terje Haakonsen pointed out to cheers at the prize giving “you know, sometimes style is better than technicality”.
Unfortunately, the weather hadn’t allowed the ladies to really show what they’d got. Heavy cloud this morning meant that the semis were cancelled, and instead of having a three-run final, all 21 girls who’d qualified so far were ushered into a mega-final – the catch being that they only had time for two runs each. This meant that the first runs were played relatively safe, with the second runs kept for something a little bit special.
In Kelly’s case, this meant throwing down a run that put her in first straight away, and then going for a massive front 10 on the first hit of her second. Unfortunately she couldn’t hold on to the landing, but the amplitude alone made it worth shouting about. Like Jamie Anderson in yesterday’s slopestyle however, the score she posted first time around was so high that no-one could match it. Not that they didn’t try.
Yuki Furihata’s stylish inverts looked like they might challenge for the title, and Queralt Castellet (who had kept things simple first time round) stomped a second run that included with a massive 900, a trick she’d never landed in competition before! She’d been to Laax before, but never really got anywhere. But now, fresh off the back of two Dew Tour wins, this Spanish lass is definitely one to watch. Holly Crawford, one of the large Aussie contingent that’s made it across for this competition, was going bigger than pretty much anyone else. But her amplitude wasn’t matched by the technicality of her tricks, meaning she was always going to struggle to score high.
Kjersti Oestergaard Buaas, a veteran of such comps, fell on her first run. But she came out of the gates for the second with all guns firing, throwing down arguably the most stylish combos of the day, including a sick backside five and a super-stylish air to fakie – surely one of the best looking tricks in the pipe.
By the time the men’s practise had finished and the finals were about to start, the pipe could have been on a different planet from the morning. Blazing sunshine had burned off the cloud cover, setting everything up nicely just in time for the live broadcast on Swiss TV – a huge publicity coup for the Burton crew. Understandably, everyone was pretty stoked that they could see, and as the crowds of shred-heads were joined by skiers up for the weekend, the atmosphere really started to pick up. The riders did their best to impress, whipping out all their best moves. Thankfully, the weather meant they got three runs each too.
Markus Keller rinsed out, with huuuuuge frontside alley-oops bringing cheers to his home crowd. Young Jan Scherrer was also looking good. But after I-Pod landed heavily on the coping on the final hit of his first run (an attempt at his double mctwist 1260) and Peetu had fallen, everything was suddenly thrown wide open.
Arthur Longo, the French Volcom rider had qualified in first, meaning he dropped last. He was going ridiculously well until the final hit, where he slammed down half way through a double cork 10, catching the coping in the small of his back and clattering to the deck. As marshalls ran up to see if he was OK, Arthur shook himself a bit and rode down. But he was obviously shaken and on he fell again on his second run. By the time the first runs had been run, it was the relatively unknown (but seriously sick) young American Benji Farrow was in the lead!
The second runs saw Iikka-Eemeli Laari move briefly into second, before I-Pod kicked him down a spot by stomping two doubles – one of them the double mctwist 1260. Kazu meanwhile, held onto his run, but didn’t impress the judges enough to switch things around at the top, leaving him in second. Things were getting serious for Peetu as well, as he stacked his double cork again.
But like always with Peetu, when the chips are down and he needs to pull something out of the bag, he does. His final run was so clean, so balls-out, and so stylish that it took him straight to the top of the leaderboard. And despite Kazu stomping a better run that took him into second, he couldn’t shift the Finn from the top spot. So when I-Pod fell on the double mctwist again the title was Peetu’s.
Burton European Open Halfpipe – Results
1 Peetu Piiroinen
2 Kazuhiro Kokubo
3 Iuori Podlatchikov
4 Benji Farrow
5 Iikka-Eemeli Laari
6 Scotty James
7 Jan Scherrer
8 Markus Malin
9 Arthur Longo
10 Markus Keller
1 Kelly Clark
2 Queralt Castellet
3 Yuki Furihata
4 Kjersti Oestergaard Buaas
5 Soko Yamaoka
6 Linn Haug
7 Cilka Sadar
8 Ursina Haller
9 Nadja Putschert
10 Kendall Brown