Men's and Women's Slopestyle Finals
More blazingly sunny spring weather was on tap for Friday's men's and women's slopestyle finals, but the warm weather proved to be a mixed blessing as a slushy semi finals saw some top contenders including Eric Willett, I-Pod and Christian Haller wash out on their landings, and lose the chance of moving on.
For those who could stick their landings solid, the finals created a different kind of heat, as each of the three runs ratcheted up the pressure to drop the most spins and smoothest touchdowns. Mikkel Bang came out strong from the get-go, leading the board with combos of 1080s. Stale Sandbech threw down with his own 1080 combos, adding in a 1260 and a spin off the "shocker" rail feature at the bottom. Peetu Piiroinen came correct with stomped backside rodeos, and a double backside cork 1080.
But as the rounds progressed, Bang laid down a 1080, a switch backside 1260 and a 1080 line through the jumps with so much style and control, the judges awarded him a 98.00, and no on could seem to catch up. The race for second was shuffled throughout the riders' third run, with Sandbech and Piiroinen loosing podium places to Sebastian Toutant's double backside rodeo. A surprise second was claimed by Ulrik Badertscher of Norway, who capped off a crazy run with a double front-flip off the shocker.
"I wasn't really planning anything," said a stunned Bang. "I didn't even know it was finals today, I just did it. This is the U.S. Open the way it should be -- this is perfect, it's sunny, people were happy, it was a crazy level of snowboarding today."
About his wild second-place clinching move, Badertscher said, "I saved it up. I didn't know that I was going to podium. I was like, at least I'm going to do a double front flip." At least a double front flip, how about that?
The women's field saw the rise of X Games Europe Slopestyle podium placer Sina Candrian, who came with consistency, putting down a cab five to frontside seven combo that couldn't be beat. Shelly Gotlieb came from behind with a backside seven to grab Silver, and slopestyle podium regular Jamie Anderson took bronze with a re-boot of her Winter X Games line.
Cab fives and frontside half cabs were a regular occurrence throughout the rounds, and Janna Meyen-Weatherby was sticking cab sevens, but couldn't quite line up the rest of the run. Above average and progressive riding to the viewers, but just another day in the park, according to Candrian:
"It's normal -- we all love to ride together so this is kind of the same in spirit. It was a good competition with nice weather and perfect obstacles, so we just had fun out there."
Maybe a modest statement, considering this was Candrian's fifth visit to the U.S. Open, and her first podium.
Black and Night Rail Jam
The Black and Night rail jam seems to be a play on a popular adult beverage, but the only people getting dizzy tonight were the riders jibbing the course. A spread of jib options on tap for competitors included a quarter pipe with a lift tower pole imbedded in it, a lexan quarterpipe, and various boxes and rails.
While the whole field was going bananas hiking the and hitting the course during the jam, Charles Reid took the cake with rodeo alley-oop 7s on the quarter pipe -- a feature that Tim Humphreys used as well with handplants going both ways. Shaun Murphy rode into third with a backflip on the slippery lexan quarterpipe. Jamie Anderson sealed it up for the women with walljams up the pole to quarter pipe, followed by Sarka Pancochova and Chanelle Sladics.