The final day of competition here in Laax opened wit the ladies halfpipe finals. After the below par conditions for the eliminations on Friday, the high cloud almost seemed like a blessing: at least it wasn’t slowing the women down at all.
With only six riders in the final there was more than enough time for them to have three runs each, setting up an exciting three-way duel between Chloe Kim, Kelly Clark and Queralt Castellet. Although the latter had qualified in first place, she was unable to put down anything to challenge for the podium, but the local Spaniard was seen disappearing off for some pow runs as the weather came in later, not such a bad day.
Instead it was the Swiss Nadja Purtschert who took the third place spot, delighting the home crowd by edging just ahead of Holly Crawford. Way out in front though were the pair that have and will likely be battling it out over every major pipe event this season: Clark and Kim. Though the fourteen year old was able to pip her mentor in Aspen a couple of weekends ago, the apprentice has not yet become the master as Kelly Clark soared into first early enough to take a victory lap to finish. Never one to hold back, she went for the frontside 1080 on her first hit even with no pressure to throw down.
The sun finally managed to burst through the crowds for the start of the men’s finals, Henry Jackson‘s Hawaiian sun dances obviously paying off, but by the time he’d completed a full lap of Laax’s 200 metre halfpipe on foot around the end of the second heats the clouds and fog had come back again with a vengeance.
First to drop was Irish/American Seamus O’Connor who, since his emergence into the international scene in Sochi, has come a long way in terms of both control and style. The seventeen year old still has some refining to do, but the height he can get out of the pipe even through technical doubles is jaw-dropping – definitely one to look out for in future.
Arthur Longo and Christian ‘Hitch’ Haller kept the style fans more than happy with a collection of huge methods and smooth technical tricks – Longo’s switch alley-oop double rodeo at the end of his run was a strong contender for trick of the day.
They finished in fourth and fifth, but at the end of the day – as it was in Sochi – the final podium was a mixture of Swiss precision and Japanese flair. In fact, given the absence of Shaun White from the contest and Taku Hiraoka from the finals, it was identical – David Habluetzel transforming his Olympic fifth place into a European third.
Which meant that at the top of the table once again were Iouri Podladtchikov and Ayumu Hirano coming in first and second respectively. Ayumu had a blistering first run that scored him an immediate 88.75, but after iPod stuck his second for 90.25 with a trademark mix of amplitude and technicality it was all over. The weather rolled in and riders started to tame their runs, leaving the Olympic champ a method-filled victory lap through the Laax pipe for the second year running.
And then, just like that, the 2015 Burton European Open was over. As we type riders are disappearing either to make the most of the European powder or to head for the second stop of the World Snowboard Tour that kicks off tomorrow in Mammoth, but for now we’ll bid you adieu from Laax.