Ben Ferguson, Chloe Kim top halfpipe semis at Burton U.S. Open | SummitDaily.com

Ben Ferguson, Chloe Kim top halfpipe semis at Burton U.S. Open

John LaConte
jlaconte@vaildaily.com
Chloe Kim reaches for a grab high above the Vail Mountain Golden Peak halfpipe during Thursday's Burton U.S. Open qualifiers. The 14-year-old snowboarding phenom who recently became the X Games youngest gold medal winner took the top spot in the opening round of competition advancing to Saturday's finals.

SATURDAY’S halfpipe finals

MEN’S QUALIFIERS

1) Ben Ferguson USA

2) Taylor Gold USA

3) Arthur Longo FRA

4) Jan Scherrer SUI

5) Iouri Podladtchikov SUI

6) Taku Hiraoka JPN

7) Danny Davis USA

8) Ayumu Hirano JPN

9) David Habluetzel SUI

10) Christian Haller SUI

WOMEN’S QUALIFIERS

1) Chloe Kim USA

2) Kelly Clark USA

3) Arielle Gold USA

4) Queralt Castellet ESP

5) Xuetong Cai CHN

6) Hikaru Oe JPN

VAIL — Watching the halfpipe run that landed Ben Ferguson on top of the leaderboard Thursday, one would assume it was his amplitude that earned him the day’s highest score.

That was this year’s X Games’ halfpipe winner, Danny Davis’ assumption.

“Fergie went big and did the tricks that people want to see,” Davis, who also qualified for Saturday’s finals by finishing seventh, said after Ferguson’s run. “I think amplitude makes a big difference.”

But according to the Burton U.S. Open team of judges, it was Ferguson’s execution that set him apart.

Ferguson’s run — a frontside 720 Japan, cab double-cork 1080 mute, double crippler indy, backside 900 mute and finally a frontside double cork 1080 melon — earned him an execution score of 23.5 on a 25-point scale, well above any other athlete in the field that day.

Ferguson himself knows execution pays off. He won the best trick award at the U.S. Open last year for his first hit in the halfpipe, a 20-foot double crippler.

Today, he just wanted to land his run.

“I was super nervous,” he said. “I just wanted to put something down and it worked out.”

GOLD IN SECOND

Colorado native Taylor Gold, last year’s U.S. Open halfpipe winner, was the second highest qualifier on the day. The top 10 made finals, and after run one of two, Gold wasn’t close.

“I was terrified, I just watched a bunch of sick runs go down, the whole event, everybody was killing it, so at the top it’s definitely nerve racking and it’s hard to keep it together when you’re watching sick run after sick run being thrown down,” Gold said. “I was so nervous. I was really thinking that I wasn’t going to be able to make it happen because my legs were shaking.”

After laying down an impressive run of his own, Gold relaxed a little.

“I feel amazing,” he said. “To make it to the bottom and have it be smooth like that, I’m so stoked.”

Familiar faces top women’s qualifier

Much like it’s been all season, the women’s pipe qualifiers saw some familiar faces leading charge. Fresh from her January win at X Games, 14-year-old snowboarding phenom Chloe Kim led the pack putting down a solid run that earned her an 87.62. Her win at X Games made her the youngest ever to top the podium at the event.

Four-time Olympian Kelly Clark finished second with an 84.75. With the exception of the X Games, the 31-year old Clark has been proving she’s still the woman to beat, adding two US Grand Prix wins and a Dew Tour championship to her resume this year along with a second place at X Games behind Kim. Taylor Gold’s sister Arielle rounded out the top three in the women’s competition. She’s coming off a strong season of her own with two second-place finishes at the Grand Prix behind Clark, a third-place finish at Dew Tour and fourth at X Games.

Both men’s and women’s halfpipe finals will take place this Saturday at Vail Mountain’s Golden Peak.

Summit Daily sports editor Sebastian Foltz contributed to this report.


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