VAIL — Golden Peak has transformed into Burtonville as practice begins Monday in snowboarding’s oldest annually occurring halfpipe and slopestyle competition.
The Burton US Open is now celebrating 32 years in existence, and in that time event organizers have learned a thing or two about successful branding strategies. You may have noticed Chair 6 is no longer the Riva Bahn, is the USO Bahn. Trail signs at the bottom of Chair 11, along the Northface Catwalk and at the end of Briskwalk now direct guests to the Burton US Open, rather than to Golden Peak.
And the sponsor village at Golden Peak is immense, with a huge red Burton big top as the centerpiece.
It’s all part of a celebration of snowboarding that is not only attracting the biggest names in the sport, it’s previewing who to keep your eye on for the future.
“The exciting thing about this year is you’ve got a lot of the younger athletes competing, who will be the people to watch going into 2018,” said Ben Boyd, the snowboard program director from Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, who just got back from the Olympic Games in Sochi.
FARRINGTON TO SPEAK
Boyd’s program at Ski and Snowboard Club Vail will have quite a few athletes participating at the U.S. Open. One of those athletes, Kaitlyn Farrington, won gold in the halfpipe at Sochi.
“It’s pretty exciting for our program to have these athletes on the podium and then to have them right back here in our home town,” Boyd said.
One of the unique elements of this year’s US Open, says Burton PR Manager Melody Pfeiffer, is the celebration of the medal winners in Sochi, scheduled for scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Solaris Stage on Wednesday.
“I know Kaitlyn (Farrington) will be wearing a microphone and answering questions from fans, so it will be a great interactive experience,” Pfeiffer said.
Monday and Tuesday’s practice sessions will be a great chance to see the riders in a more relaxed setting than Wednesday through Saturday’s competitions. Practice sessions run from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., and then again from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
This is only the second year the US Open is in Vail, last year it moved from Stratton, Vt., to the fluffy powder of the Rockies. The competition saw its fair share of snow – during slopestyle finals, popular Norweigan snowboarder Torstein Horgmo provided his fans with a memorable moment when he veered off course and slashed a powder tail into the air.
2014 Olympian Danny Davis announced he was recovered from injury and back on snow at last year’s US Open, and said he had been doing laps in the aspens near Mudslide and along the banked slalom-style alleys near Chair 11, loving the fresh powder.
Gabe Ferguson, a halfpipe competitor at the event, points out the besides the potential for powder, the Vail venue is ideal for both riders and spectators.
“The halfpipe is always a fun one to watch because you can see the whole course from the bottom,” Ferguson said. “And for the riders it’s really nice to have the half-pipe and slopestyle in one area on a super fast lift.”
Slopestyle semi-finals will begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday, with halfpipe semi-finals scheduled for Thursday at 10 a.m. Slopestyle finals are Friday beginning at 11:30 a.m., with halfpipe finals Saturday at 11:30 a.m.