Silverthorne snowboarder Chris Corning qualifies for Burton U.S. Open slopestyle final; Red Gerard, Kyle Mack fail to make cut | SummitDaily.com

Silverthorne snowboarder Chris Corning qualifies for Burton U.S. Open slopestyle final; Red Gerard, Kyle Mack fail to make cut

Antonio Olivero and
John LaConte
Summit Daily News

A month after he failed to qualify at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic slopestyle competition, it was a bit of redemption for Summit County snowboarder Chris Corning at the Burton U.S. Open on Wednesday.

On his two runs down the slopestyle course on the bluebird Wednesday afternoon at Vail Resort's Golden Peak, Corning looked poised, confident and ready to go for the podium during Friday's final round. The 18-year-old Silverthorne resident tallied an 81.10 and an 82.25 on similar runs to qualify as the top American, in third place. It was only behind international favorites Marcus Kleveland — 2018 X Games Aspen slopestyle champion — of Norway (second place, 82.30) and Olympic slopestyle bronze medalist Mark McMorris of Canada (first place, 83.35), who described the course as fast.

"It's a little steeper than most of the slope courses we're on," McMorris said.

"It's a speedy course, but the rails are pretty straightforward," Kleveland said. "I like the course a lot."

After not competing in the Olympics, Japanese rider Yuki Kadono posted an effortless 81.60 first run that qualified in fourth place and hinted he'll be a challenger for the top spot come Friday's final. It's scheduled for 2 p.m. MST, to be broadcast live online at: http://events.burton.com/burton-us-open/live-webcast/.

"There's not much wind here, and the snow is soft as well," Kadono said. "The weather is great and I'm able to do the best run I possibly can."

On that second, higher-scoring run, Corning executed a backside 270 out on the first rail feature to start his run. He then executed a switch boardslide to 50-50, a backside 360 out and a 50-50 backside rodeo nose out on the remainder of the rail section before entering the final three jumps. On those jumps, Corning landed a switch backside 900 with a mute grab, a frontside 1440 with a melon grab and a backside triple cork 1440 (three inversions, four full 360-degree rotations) with a melon grab.

Corning's fellow Olympians and Summit County snowboarders Red Gerard and Kyle Mack both failed to qualify for Friday's final. Gerard scrubbed his first run and then pieced together a solid second run concluding with a backside triple cork 1440 with a mute grab, but the 17-year-old sudden celebrity was only awarded 69.35 points from the judges (20th place).

Olympic big air silver medalist Mack posted a 74.70 on his first run that featured a switch backside triple cork 1260 (three inversions, three-and-a-half rotations) with a tail grab. It left him in bubble territory for finals qualification, but by the time he needed to drop in for his second run, he further needed a score above Steamboat Springs snowboarder Nik Baden (77.75), who qualified to the final in 10th place.

But Mack failed to execute his fifth trick, knocking him out of the competition he won two years ago.

Baden was the only other American to qualify for the final, as remaining qualifiers Takeru Otsuka of Japan (81.35, fifth), Fridtjof Tischendorf of Norway (80.30), Staale Sandbech of Norway (78.15), Roope Tonteri of Finland (78.10) and Tyler Nicholson of Canada (78.00) also qualified.

YOUTH OF TODAY

Hawaii snowboarder Lyon Farrell, 19, got a chance to compete despite coming to the contest as an alternate. The fact that Farrell came in from Maui to Vail without any guarantees that he would get to compete was a showcase of how important the Burton U.S. Open is to snowboarders.

"I was crossing my fingers, hoping it would happen," Farrell said. "I just love the event."

While he didn't make finals, Farrell said he was happy he got a chance to show his slopestyle prowess to the snowboarding world at the Burton U.S. Open.

"I was kind of bummed I couldn't put it down, but I had so much fun out here," he said.

FAMILIAR RIVALRY

On the women's side, two-time Olympic slopestyle gold medalist Jamie Anderson took the lead on her first run for a high score of 83.75.

"Today has been really fun," Anderson said. "It's actually the best course conditions of the season."

Defending U.S. Open champion Anna Gasser, of Austria, grabbed second place with an 80.95. Her technical run included the creative use of a narrow takeoff in the upper rail section throwing a huge backside 180, plus a lofty backside 720 mute in the jump section. American Julia Marino took the third spot earning a 75.85.

DEPTH OF SNOWBOARDING

In the large men's field, which features 32 of the most talented snowboarders on the planet, the depth of snowboarding is sometimes better showcased in semifinals than finals at the Burton U.S. Open.

The riders who don't make the top-10 can show as much progression as those who make it through.

Belgian snowboarder Sebbe De Buck failed to land a clean run on Wednesday, but used the opportunity to showcase tricks not often seen in a slopestyle contest. His double front flip was a crowd favorite.

"I've never done it in a slopestyle run, so I thought why not do it here where it will be seen by other snowboarders," De Buck said. "The U.S. Open was a perfect place to show it, and show that there's other stuff besides triple corks and 14s."

In 2015, a relatively unknown Japanese rider landed back-to-back backside triple cork 1620s on the final two jumps of the Burton U.S. Open slopestyle course in what still stands, in many snowboarders' minds, as the best slopestyle run of all time.

Upon being hoisted onto the shoulders of the other snowboarders waiting for him in the finish corral, Yuki Kadono knew his moment had arrived.

"I was only 17 at the time, I was young and I hadn't had many great results in a slopestyle contest," Kadono said on Wednesday. "I thought to myself, 'What can I do to be in first place?' And that's the routine I came up with. … Every year since then I've came back here with high motivation and high expectations for myself to be in the best podium position that I possibly can."

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