Colorado’s Jake Canter wins prestigious Burton Open Junior Jam snowboard halfpipe event; Summit locals take 4th, 9th
VAIL — Two years ago, Evergreen snowboarder Jake Canter watched the Junior Jam at the Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships with a broken arm.
Last year, Canter — then 13 — made it into the prestigious halfpipe contest for kids 14 and younger, but failed to land a run.
“I’m 14 now, it’s my last year in the Junior Jam, I had to do it,” Canter said this year from the finish corral after ascending the podium. “I’m speechless.”
Canter’s story is similar to a lot of Colorado snowboarders. He found his love for the sport in backyard arenas before taking his skills to the resort.
“I had a lot of neighbors who were always snowboarding and it looked so much fun,” he said.
After making it to the Junior Jam at the 2017 Burton U.S. Open, Canter quickly realized it was his favorite among all the events he has participated in.
“It’s so much fun, hanging out with all your friends and the pros, it’s just a blast,” he said.
Canter landed his first two runs, but not necessarily with ease. The heavy, seven-hit runs contained combos deemed difficult even by the pros.
“Most pipes aren’t as long as this one, so it was pretty hard,” he said. “I was tired at the end.”
Canter landed three different variations of the 720, and also landed back-to-back 540s and a 900. He performed five different grabs in the run, something he thinks the judges appreciated.
“Doing different spins, landing switch, doing back-to-back tricks, that all gets you big points,” he said.
Winning the Junior Jam gives competitors an entry into the Burton Open halfpipe semifinal competition against the pros on Thursday. It’s an outcome Canter said he had not considered.
“I don’t even know what I’m going to do,” he said after winning the Junior Jam. “It will be so fun to ride with my idols. I just want to put a run down, honestly.”
Summit County Locals take fourth, ninth
Canter’s score, an 89.49, beat out second-place finisher Valentino Guseli, a 12-year-old phenom from Australia, and third-place snowboarder Kyotaro Tanaka, of Japan, who is 13.
The fourth place spot went to local rider Fynn Bullock-Womble, who scored an 81.12. The 13-year-old is originally from North Carolina but now lives in Copper Mountain and rides for Ski & Snowboard Club Vail.
“It was a heated event, everyone was throwing down,” he said. “But I’m stoked to land the best run I’ve ever landed in the halfpipe.”
Bullock-Womble, who just turned 13, said earlier this week that he’s been looking forward to competing in the Junior Jam for several years. He moved to Copper Mountain several years ago in an effort to take his snowboarding to the next level. He sought out coach Chris Laske, the head of the snowboarding program at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, whom he knew from a family connection.
“I know he used to coach Kyle Mack,” Bullock-Womble said.
The Silverthorne resident Mack just took home the silver medal in snowboarding big air at the 2018 Olympics. Once a star student of Laske’s, Mack also won the Burton U.S. Open slopestyle event in 2016.
Laske said Bullock-Womble reminds him of a young Kyle Mack.
“Kyle landed his first 1080 at 11 years old, and so did Fynn,” Laske said. “Now he has multiple 1080s, double corks, he’s super comfortable on 70-80 foot jumps, he’s sending 10-12 foot airs in the halfpipe, he’s on the same path.”
Bullock-Womble is already qualified for the World Rookie Tour, a pathway to FIS-level competition for juniors which has two age divisions — 14 and younger and 15-18. It takes place in Austria in the spring and only takes the top four competitors per gender per age division.
In the younger age division, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail has already qualified five athletes. Dillon resident Hayden Tyler, 11, will join Bullock-Womble on the World Rookie Tour this year, and also participated in the Junior Jam on Tuesday, finishing in ninth place of the 16 riders (60.12)
“There’s a good crew out here for sure,” Bullock-Womble said before the event. “I know pretty much everyone in Junior Jam so it’s going to be a fun event.”
ONO ON TOP
In the girls’ competition, 14-year-old Mitsuki Ono of Japan took the top spot handily, scoring an 84.5.
Second place finisher Tessa Maud, a 14-year old snowboarder from California, scored a 77.24. She said Ono was fun to chase.
“She’s already amazing, but she’s going to be really amazing,” Maud said of Ono.
Maud won the Junior Jam in 2016, at the young age of 12.
She since went on to earn a start in the U.S. Grand Prix competition, a World Cup-level event.
“The Junior Jam is a good opportunity for young kids to get more into the industry,” she said. “You get to ride with pros, which is super fun.”
Participating in the last Junior Jam of her young career on Tuesday, March 6, Maud said she was sad, but was going to have as much fun as possible and soak in the experience.
“This is definitely my favorite event, you get to hang out with all of your friends and ride the best pipe ever,” she said.
The Burton U.S. Open continues on Wednesday, March 7, with women’s slopestyle semifinals beginning at 10 a.m. at Golden Peak. Men’s slopestyle semifinals will follow at 12:30 p.m., with Summit County snowboarders Mack, Chris Corning and Red Gerard scheduled to compete fresh-off returning from the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Summit Daily News sports & outdoors editor Antonio Olivero contributed to this report.
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