Red Gerard rides to third place at thrilling Burton U.S. Open slopestyle final |

Red Gerard rides to third place at thrilling Burton U.S. Open slopestyle final

Japan's Yuki Kadono wins, Henricksen lands quad-cork 1800 for second

Red Gerard (right) celebrates his third-place podium finish with runner-up 17-year-old Dusty Henricksen (left) of Mammoth Lakes, California and repeat champion Yuki Kadono of Japan after Friday's men's slopestyle finals at the Burton U.S. Open at Vail Mountain Resort in Vail.
Courtesy Burton

VAIL – Ten of the world’s best slopestyle snowboarders competed under bluebird skies Friday in the men’s slopestyle finals at the Burton U.S. Open in Vail.

Yuki Kadono reprised his winning role from 2015 with the same closing salvo, an un-natural or “switch” backside 1620 off the final jump. Dusty Henricksen, 17, also stunned the snowboarding world with a backside quadruple cork 1800 that solidified his second-place position. Silverthorne resident Red Gerard finished third, landing a switch backside 1440.

The technicality of the tricks on the final jump was discussed by the many professional snowboarders in attendance, who stormed Henricksen and tackled him in the finish coral when he landed the quad cork.

But a full slopestyle run is much more than its final jump, and Kadono had a higher degree of difficulty, and rotation, in several of the tricks leading up to the big finish. While Henricksen spun in three of the four directions a snowboarder can spin, Kadono spun in all four. Henricksen did not perform the difficult switch backside rotation, while Kadono included two switch backside tricks in his run. Kadono also managed to perform a 1260-degree spin on one of the course’s quarterpipe-style “side hits,” while Henricksen opted for 900-degree rotations on the side hits.

Watching from the judges booth, 2018 slopestyle champion Mark McMorris assumed, correctly, that Henricksen’s near-completion of his first attempt on the quad cork was his first time ever trying the trick.

Henricksen told McMorris he was right, and the reason he chose the backside 1800-degree rotation over a 1620-degree rotation was to avoid landing switch after such a heavily spun trick.

“So I figured, what’s another flip?” Henricksen said.

Gerard said he understood completely.

“Going back 16, you kind of fall into a couch position if you over rotate, and it can be pretty painful,” Gerard said.

“I don’t know if I agree, but he said it’d be easier to do four flips,” Gerard added, with a laugh.

Gerard did opt for a switch landing in his final trick, a trick that’s also spun in the switch backside rotation, making the whole trick a switch effort.

“I don’t think I’m going to ever do that trick,” Henricksen said of Gerard’s switch backside 1440. “It’s super gnarly.”

For Henricksen, who is 17 years old, the 2020 U.S. Open was a much different experience than that of Gerard and Kadono, who have both won U.S. Open titles in the past.

Henricksen said that despite the fact that the competition is tougher at the U.S. Open, his most difficult contest of the season was not the U.S. Open, but rather an event where athletes over the age of 18 are not allowed to compete.

In January, Henricksen won gold at the 2020 Youth Olympic Games, an International Olympic Committee sanctioned event designed to provide a younger replica of the traditional Olympic Games.

“I think the run I did there was harder than here,” he said following Friday’s competition in Vail. “The course was way different, super flat landings.”

While that was a breakout moment for Henricksen, the performance wasn’t one the larger world of snowboarding would witness.

Flash forward to Friday, where Henricksen found himself amid the entire community of slopestyle riders, in an encouraging and relaxed atmosphere.

“I’m just riding with the boys,” he said. “It’s pretty mellow vibes, so how can you get too scared?”

Gerard said that’s the atmosphere Jake Burton Carpenter, the late founder of Burton Snowboards, hoped to create when he started the Burton U.S. Open in 1982.

“This year was definitely one of the best years, everyone’s whole vibe was having fun and remembering Jake,” Gerard said. “I think that was his number one thing was to have the best time, and I think that’s why he created the Open.”

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