Year after his surprising 5th place finish at Burton Open, Chris Corning letting his snowboard skills answer question: #WhoTheFIsChrisCorning? | SummitDaily.com

Year after his surprising 5th place finish at Burton Open, Chris Corning letting his snowboard skills answer question: #WhoTheFIsChrisCorning?

A year ago, this was the scene where Chris Corning fully stepped up to international snowboarding's biggest stage.

With his fifth-place finish as a 17-year-old at the 2017 Burton U.S. Open — an event that stakes a claim as "the world's greatest snowboard event" — Corning elicited a rousing ovation from the assembled snowboarders in the VIP tent. It was there that his peers and competition huddled together to watch the live action.

Twelve months later, a whole heck of a lot has changed for the now legally eligible-to-vote Corning. The 2017-18 season has certainly had its share of ups and downs.

For one, Corning podiumed at both the Copper Mountain U.S. Grand Prix and at the Dew Tour at Breckenridge Ski Resort in December, sealing his inclusion on the U.S. Olympic team.

“I usually struggle on my flow scores here, so I tried really hard to make sure I got every way in this year. And I think it did help, for sure. Because when I come here, I always get scored low on flow score. So I was kind of mostly just focusing on the flow score and to stay as smooth as I can. Because that’s what scored the best in past years.”Chris Corning

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Then, at last month's Olympics, though Corning put forth a valiant effort to finish in fourth place in the debut Olympic snowboard big air competition, he failed to qualify for the slopestyle final. It was a disappointing result for the Silverthorne resident even though it was his first Olympics.

In between all of those big competitions, Corning also battled nagging hip and back injuries, worked to perfect his landmark quad-cork 1800 (four inversions, five 360-degree rotations) and embraced the hashtag that blew up at last year's Burton U.S. Open: "#WhoTheFIsChrisCorning."

Translation: "Who the f*** is Chris Corning?"

Corning let the question motivate him to the extent that the social media hashtag leads off his Instagram bio.

A year after the hashtag came to be, it's Corning and his snowboarding success that's trending. And after a Wednesday qualifying round in his return to the Burton Open where Corning was pleasantly surprised by the scores he received from the judges, he's more than ready to prove he — like his Summit County Olympic medal-winning teammates Red Gerard, 17, and Kyle Mack, 20 — is not only one of the best young snowboarders in the world, but one of the best snowboarders in the world. Friday's Burton U.S. Open slopestyle final will be broadcast live at 2 p.m. MST at: http://events.burton.com/burton-us-open/live-webcast/.

"I usually struggle on my flow scores here," Corning said after he concluded his third-place 82.25 qualifying run on Wednesday. "I tried really hard to make sure I got every way in this year. And I think it did help, for sure. Because when I come here, I always get scored low on flow score. So I was kind of mostly just focusing on the flow score and to stay as smooth as I can. Because that's what scored the best in past years."

Heading into Friday's final, Corning said he plans to step up two of his jumps on the Vail Mountain slopestyle course he's become familiar with.

On his third-place qualifying run on Wednesday, Corning completed a flat-spin switch backside 900 (two-and-a-half rotations), with a mute grab, on the course's first jump. Then on the third and final jump, Corning executed a backside triple cork 1440 (three inversions, four rotations).

He threw down both with relative ease, and said on Friday he'd likely bump up each trick by executing a 1260 (three-and-a-half rotations) and a 1620 (four-and-a-half rotations) on the first and last jump — the "money-booter" — of the lower portion of the course.

As for the course itself and the importance of just when he'll drop in — Corning will be the third-to-last rider, only in front of favorites Marcus Kleveland (Norway) and Mark McMorris (Canada) — Corning said he's trying to remain focused on himself and not any exterior factors. Even if the Burton Open is known for having all the riders watch the competition while seated together underneath that white tent.

"It always helps to go last because you always know what you are up against," Corning said, "and you know what people are landing.

"I've never been a big fan of watching runs," the 18-year-old continued, "but when you come here it's kind of hard not to. It's super nice to be able to watch them, know what you're up against. But I'm going to do the same run, step up my run for sure, but mostly stick to what I know."

In comparison to last month's Olympic slopestyle course, Corning said the Burton Open course also lacks some ability for riders like him to be creative, due to how short the rails are.

"But you just have to work through it and figure it out," Corning said. "It's just going to be a battle of wits and who can bring it out."

As for that moment he drops in for Friday's final, Corning will likely listen to the same tune that led him to a strong showing on Wednesday, when his Summit County snowboard slopestyle brethren Gerard and Mack failed to qualify. It was a song from his father's era of music: Metallica's "For Whom The Bell Tolls."

So, "Who the f*** is Corning?" On Friday, he may just be that 18-year-old Metallica-listening, internally-focused snowboarder who bests the world's best.

"It's one of my favorite songs to listen to," Corning said. "And right before I drop in, I start it back over."