Burgener sneaks past I-Pod for 2017 U.S. Grand Prix snowboard halfpipe title | SummitDaily.com

Burgener sneaks past I-Pod for 2017 U.S. Grand Prix snowboard halfpipe title

Editor’s note: Look for more photos from the U.S. Grand Prix in Saturday’s paper.

COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. — I-Pod had this thing in the bag.

On Friday morning, just in time for the title-bout snow flurries — it’s been a theme since Dew Tour — Swiss teammates Iouri “I-Pod” Podladtchikov and Patrick Burgener battled for the top spot on the men’s snowboard finals podium at the 2017 U.S. Grand Prix. Also in the mix were Australian Scotty James and American Chase Josey, while heavy hitters like American Greg Bretz and another Swiss rider, Christian Haller, were struggling to land a clean run. Curiously missing from the final was Shaun White, the three-time Olympic gold medalist dethroned in Sochi by I-Pod. He failed to make the cut at Thursday’s qualifier with a high score of 65.50. Danny Davis qualified, but never took a start.

By 11:45 a.m., things were coming down to the wire. After two runs of the three-run final, I-Pod was in the lead with 96.00, followed by Josey in second place with 92.25 and Burgener in third with 88.50. Louie Vito — the veteran U.S. Grand Prix overall pipe champ who started the morning in first after qualifiers — sat on the outside looking in at fourth place with 87.75.

Then, everyone decided to throw down — snow and flat light be damned. James had a stylish run with doubles in both directions to score 88.75, enough to bump Burgener into fourth. That’s when he made the move and put together the best run of the finals with tons of amplitude in a sticky pipe and crisp, clean landings. Like the small but boisterous crowd, the judges reacted with awe for the new high score of the day: 96.25, enough to overcome I-Pod by 0.25 and put Burgener in first.

Josey responded with a bigger, better repeat of his first run and scored a 93.75. It was enough to beat the American’s personal third-place score, but not enough to jump ahead of the Swiss teammates. With two competitors left, I-Pod dropped in to try and reclaim the top spot. It’s no wonder he’s the first person to beat Shaun White at the Olympics — the two are scarily similar. They both get massive air and spin with pinpoint precision, so that the same tricks everyone else is doing just don’t seem as impressive.

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But Burgener couldn’t be beat. I-Pod scored 95.75, just 0.25 points lower than his second run and 0.50 away from Burgener, leaving Vito as the final guy between the leader and a U.S. Grand Prix title. The veteran went all-in for his final run — and slid out on a hit in the middle of the pipe to finished the day in fifth overall.

The 2017 U.S. Grand Prix wraps up on Saturday, Dec. 17 with the freeski superpipe finals for women and men at 9 a.m., followed by the snowboard big air finals for women and men at 12:15 p.m. and 1:45 p.m.

2017 U.S. Grand Prix snowboard finals

Men's halfpipe

  1. Patrick Burgener (SUI) — 96.25
  2. Iouri Podladtchikov (SUI) — 96.00
  3. Chase Josey (USA) — 93.72
  4. Scotty James (AUS) — 88.75
  5. Louie Vito (USA) — 87.75
  6. David Habluetzel(SUI) — 74.50
  7. Jan Scherrer (SUI) — 71.50
  8. Christian Haller (SUI) — 71.25
  9. Greg Bretz (USA) — 50.75
  10. Danny Davis (USA) — DNS