Thu, Mar 15 2012 1:45 am
Action in the halfpipe final: Photo Credit: Transworld Business
The 30th anniversary of the 2012 Burton US Open presented by MINI wrapped up last weekend at Stratton Mountain, with more than $100,000 in prizes and a pair of MINI Countryman vehicles awarded to the top competitors. Fresh snow and sunny skies brought out the crowds for the halfpipe competition on Saturday.The beauty of the Open is that it’s an event anyone can win at—and it always has been. While men’s halfpipe winner Shaun White was in and out, coming to the event for just over a 24-hour period and leaving after the awards ceremony in a private helicopter, there was also local rider 20-year-old Benji Farrow (from Okemo, Vermont) who grabbed third and was in the finals for the first time after competing at the Open for six years.
“To do it here in my home state, close to my home town when it turned 30 years old was a nice redemption,” he said, commenting that for the last two years he had been nipping at everyone’s heels.
Women’s halfpipe winner Elena Hight (USA), who knocked out longtime champion Kelly Clarke’s 16-competition winning streak, was in shock about her win, but attributed it to a new trick she’s been working on: the alley oop backside rodeo along with back-to-back 900s.
“It’s a legendary event and to win at the 30th is amazing—I’m beyond happy,” said Hight, who first came to the Open when she was 13.
The weeklong competition was much more than just Saturday’s halfpipe action. The Washed Up Cup kicked off weekend festivities on Friday night. Riders went old school wearing hard boots and maneuvering around gates hitting a kicker at the end. Early Burton competitors like Scott Palmer, Ian Price, and Andy Coghlan came out for the fun, along with many others including Tricia Byrnes and Ross Powers. Some riders used original gear from the era.
“That was about as close as you get to the early days,“ said Todd Kohlman, Burton’s archivist. “Everyone was hooting and hollering and just cheering people on—it was a cool feeling to be a part of that,” he continued, adding that in the initial days of racing downhill, the equipment was in such an early development state that it was a challenge just to make it down the hill.
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