Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris and American Jamie Anderson fired the opening shots in the 2011 Burton Global Open series on Friday. Each picked up $7,000 and 850 TTR World Tour event points for winning the slopestyle finals at the Burton New Zealand Open, a 5Star TTR event.
Anderson -- the defending 2010 Burton Global Open Series women's champ and 2010 TTR World Tour women's champ -- beat out Kjersti Østgaard Buaas and Jordie Karlinski to take the women's competition at Cardrona Alpine Resort. Anderson lead the ladies the entire competition, which was the same story at the 4Star TTR Billabong Slopestyle event she won earlier this week. As the 2011/2012 competition season is officially underway, Anderson looks ready to maintain the top spot.
New Zealand local Shelly Gotlieb threw some double backflip attempts in her second and third runs -- making her the first to attempt the trick in women's competition -- but fell just short on each, finishing in seventh place.
In the men's finals McMorris edged out fellow Canadian Sebastien Toutant 90.90 to 90.55 in an almost-too-close-to-call showdown, with Norwegian rider Stale Sandbech in third with a score of 89.78. "Today was awesome," McMorris said after the event. "I'm so stoked to be on the podium with some good friends. Everybody rode insane."
McMorris' winning run included two a double-tap Cab bonk over the barrel feature, Cab 270 frontside boardslide to fakie on the down-flat-down, a half Cab to backside 360 on the cannon rail, and fireworks in the jumps: A mute backside 1080, frontside melon 900, and a huge Cab 1260 nosegrab on the final hit.
Toutant answered with a Cab 540 tail bonk on the barrel, a frontside blunt to same-way 270 out on the down-flat-down rail, and a tailslide to 270 off the cannon rail, then hit the jumps on a mission with back-to-back-to-back doubles including a backside 1080 double cork (Toutant has been calling the trick a Tootsie roll), a frontside 1080 double cork melon grab, and a double cork backside rodeo truckdriver. His overall points fell just shy of the top spot.
The TTR has made some modifications to its Snowboard Live Scoring (SLS) system this season. SLS combines judges' technical trick scores on each feature with a run "flow" score to come up with a final, more accurate overall score. This season there are two judges scoring tricks on every hit, as opposed to last year's one.
McMorris' Cab 1260 managed to make the biggest booter on the course look too small. Hopefully course builders for the upcoming winter's competitions take note, because if people want to see all the tricks these guys can do go down, they have to give them jumps that are big enough and safe enough for them to really throw down. It's the "Field of Dreams" mantra, and we'll probably keep repeating it: If you build it big, the tricks will come.
This is the first major podium finish for Sandbech, a Burton Global Open competitor since 2009 who made his Winter X Games debut in January. Sandbech was the second-place qualifier heading into Friday's finals. Get ready to hear his name a lot this year.
With Friday's win McMorris is now in fourth place in the 2011/2012 Men's TTR Slopestyle World Tour rankings, behind Roope Tonteri (who took first at the Billabong Bro Down last week), Simen Neraker, and Sam Hulbert.
Catch the live webcast of the men's and women's Burton New Zealand Open halfpipe finals tonight (Friday, August 11) at 7 p.m. ET.