Totsuka, Kim top Burton US Open halfpipe qualifiers; Blackwell, Gerard brothers film ‘Best Lines’ |

Totsuka, Kim top Burton US Open halfpipe qualifiers; Blackwell, Gerard brothers film ‘Best Lines’

John LaConte and Antonio Olivero
Colorado Mountain New Media
Jake Pates of Eagle, airs out of the halfpipe at the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships on Thursday, Feb. 28, in Vail. Pates qualified for Saturday's finals in fifth position.
Chris Dillmann /

VAIL — Locals will have a snowboarder to cheer on in the Saturday halfpipe final at the Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships, as Eagle resident Jake Pates landed a solid run in Thursday’s semfinals to make it through in fifth position.

The men’s semifinal narrowed a field of 32 down to 10 qualifiers. Japanese snowboarder Yuto Totsuka was the top qualifier with a score of 89.37, and Scotty James of Australia was just behind him with a score of 89.12.

Pates was the top scoring American on the day and one of only two U.S. riders to make it through to Saturday’s final. Danny Davis qualified in 10th position.

Japan will be the best represented nation in Saturday’s halfpipe finals, with Raibu Katayama and Ruka Hirano also qualifying on Thursday.

Katayama said the Japanese snowboarders are friends as well as rivals.

“Always, every day, every time, we push each other,” Katayma said. “We are getting higher and higher with each other.”

Scotty James, who has won the Dew Tour, X Games and the FIS halfpipe snowboarding World Championships already this season, will also have a compatriot in the finals as Australian Kent Callister made it through, as well.

“I’m looking forward to Saturday, it’s going to be an exciting show,” James said. “I’m just grateful to be a part of it.”

The men’s halfpipe finals are scheduled to start at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Vail’s Golden Peak venue. The event is free for spectators to attend and will be broadcast for free on

Kim, Gold top women’s qualifiers

Landing different runs in each of her two qualifying runs, Chloe Kim showed the competition why she is so tough to beat on Thursday at the Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships women’s halfpipe semifinals.

The last person to beat Kim in a contest was Kelly Clark, who announced her retirement earlier this season and called the contest from the booth at Golden Peak live on the website.

Clark commended Kim on landing two different runs, “both of which would have won qualifiers.”

From the bottom of the halfpipe, Kim told spectators her second run, where she landed a difficult switch backside 540, was a taste of what’s to come in finals.

“Having one extra run … I use it as another practice run,” she said. “The last bit of my second run was kind of what I wanted to do in finals.”

Americans Arielle Gold and Maddie Mastro were the next highest qualifiers, followed by Japanese snowboarders Haruna Matsumoto and Sena Tomita. Former World Champion Xuetong Cai was the last competitor to make finals, qualifying in sixth position.

The women’s halfpipe snowboarding finals at the Burton U.S. Open are scheduled to start at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Vail’s Golden Peak venue and will also be streamed online.

Summit County riders film ‘Best Lines’

New this year at the Burton U.S. Open is a video contest for pro snowboarders, one which event organizers have dubbed #ClifBestLine.

The premise of the contest is simple: While these elite men’s and women’s snowboarders are at Vail for the Burton U.S. Open, they are encouraged to use their free time to film themselves riding a line somewhere on the resort’s expansive terrain.

As of Thursday afternoon, nearly 20 different videos had been uploaded. They range from a video of American women’s slopestyle stars Julia Marino and Hailey Langland riding through the park together, to Summit County snowboarders Red Gerard and Chase Blackwell riding at different spots on the mountain to Red’s older brother Malachi filming a super stylish run through the halfpipe by Ben Ferguson.

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In Red’s video, the 18-year-old Olympic gold medalist provides an up-close-and-personal view as he shreds through one of Vail’s terrain parks, hitting one feature after another. In Blackwell’s video — who turned 20 on Wednesday — he drops in from somewhere within the resort’s legendary back bowl terrain. Hashtagging the video #AllNatural, Blackwell sends several tricks, including a backflip, off of the above-tree-line natural jumps. On Thursday, Blackwell did not qualify out of the men’s halfpipe semifinal round at the Burton U.S. Open.

The Burton U.S. Open will announce the top three videos during Saturday’s awards ceremony. To view Blackwell, the Gerard brothers’ and everyone else’s best lines, go to this article at or search “#ClifBestLine” on Instagram.

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