Burton U.S. Open continues in Vail with Halfpipe Thursday | SummitDaily.com

Burton U.S. Open continues in Vail with Halfpipe Thursday

Silverthorne's Brett Esser airs out of the Vail Mountian halfpipe during practice for the 2015 Burton U.S. Open Snowboard Championships. Esser will be competing against the world's best snowboarders during the qualifying round of the halfpipe competition Thursday.
Sebastian Foltz / sfoltz@summitdaily |

The 2015 Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships will kick into high gear Thursday at Vail Mountain with men’s and women’s snowboard halfpipe qualifiers.

Coming off a second-place finish at last week’s U.S. Grand Prix stop in Park City, Utah, and a Dew Tour win in Breckenridge in December, Steamboat Springs native and Sochi Olympian Taylor Gold will try to defend his 2014 Burton Open title in his home state.

For the women, three-time Olympic medalist Kelly Clark will attempt a three-peat when she goes for her eighth title in the event.

Repeating will be a tall order for both riders against a field of athletes that includes a number of Olympic and X Games medalists, as well as past Dew Tour and U.S. Grand Prix winners.

Sochi gold medalist Iouri “iPod” Podladtchikov and 2015 X Games Aspen winner Danny Davis will be among the 21-year-old Gold’s top competition, along with Sochi silver and bronze medalists Ayumu Hirano and Taku Hiraoka — both of Japan.

Clark, 31, will have to contend with 14-year-old U.S. phenom Chloe Kim, who topped her on the podium at January’s X Games. Kim became the youngest athlete to ever win the event. She also would likely have qualified for last winter’s Olympics but at 13 did not meet the age requirement.

Taylor Gold’s 18-year-old sister Arielle will be in contention as well, coming off a second-place finish of her own in last week’s Grand Prix, behind Clark. Arielle Gold also was second behind Clark at December’s U.S. Grand Prix at Copper and finished third and fourth in the Dew Tour and X Games, respectively.

Finals for both the men’s and women’s halfpipe competitions are scheduled for Saturday in the pipe on Vail’s Golden Peak.

weather slows opening events

Weather was the story during Day One of the U.S. Open. Gusting winds postponed the opening round of men’s snowboard slopestyle.

“I woke up, looked outside and it looked really nice,” Norwegian snowboarder Stale Sandbech told the Vail Daily. Sandbech finished second in slopestyle at both the Sochi Olympics and last year’s Burton U.S. Open. “I was pumped to ride in bluebird because it’s been kind of snowy the last couple days, but then the wind picked up and the weather came in and got worse and worse.”

Organizers decided to reschedule the men’s qualifying round for Friday. Riders will compete in a two-run qualifier in the morning, followed by finals in the afternoon.

The women’s qualifying round was completed in the morning before the weather rolled in.

U.S. Olympic gold medalist Jamie Anderson showed she’s still the woman to beat, taking the top spot in qualifiers, ahead of Cheryl Maas of the Netherlands and Canada’s Spencer O’Brien.

“I was really stoked on riding today and just having fun,” Anderson said after the competition. Acknowledging the weather in an interview with the U.S. snowboarding team’s Tricia Byrnes, Anderson said, “It did get a little windy on that second run.”

She qualified for finals on her first run, scoring an 84.9.

The women’s finals will also take place Friday.

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