McMorris, O'Brien win Burton U.S. Open
Vail, Colo. -- The snow report in Vail, Colo., at 8 a.m. set the overnight accumulation at six inches. At 9:30 a.m., locals coming down from their first runs on the resort were happily reporting knee-deep powder conditions. At 10 a.m, Jack Mitrani posted a picture on Instagram of Kevin Pearce and himself in the webcast studio, announcing the men's slopestyle finals of the 2013 Burton U.S. Open had begun.
"Anybody got a swallow tail I can use for my run?" Eric Willett posted.
"I have a speed suit in the webcast room if you want?" Mitrani replied.
Despite forecasts that the snow was supposed to let up in the morning, it was still dumping on the course as Mark McMorris dropped in for his all-method-grab final victory lap. In the end, the top-two finishes were set with McMorris and runner-up Torstein Horgmo's first runs. Chas Guldemond snuck into third position on Run 2, while virtually everyone else fell.
Speed was an issue for just about everyone except Horgmo and McMorris, who apparently had their wax tech dialed. The tricky part of the course came on the rail before the first jump; if riders didn't carry enough speed off it, they hit the knuckle of the jump, or missed it entirely, and ended their runs.
"I like bad weather," Guldemond said. "It makes things fun. When the conditions are crappy it turns from an individual thing to ... you relying on your team, your wax tech -- all those factors really come into play."
"I think you needed to be really smart about the line that you chose on the last rail," McMorris said. "For me, I was thinking, 'Stay low to the ground.' "
In the end, the difference between McMorris and Horgmo's first runs was small.
"I hauled a--, as fast as I could [off the last rail], but I only had speed for a switch back five on the first jump," Horgmo said. McMorris threw a double Wildcat off the same jump. Both threw frontside and backside double cork 10s off the second and third jumps, and had equal difficulty through the rail section up top. So in the end, the contest came down to one jump.
Horgmo got enough speed to throw the contest's first triple cork on his second run. Unfortunately for him, he sketched the top section of the course, so the triple wasn't enough.
"He's always keeping me on my toes. He did a triple just to scare me, I think," McMorris said when asked what it's like to compete with Horgmo, who is one of his close friends. "He's insane. I'm excited to be pushing the level of snowboarding together with him."
It was McMorris' first U.S. Open win and came during the first time the event was held in Vail. "I've been close before," he said, "but to win it for my first time the first time [the contest] has been in Vail is pretty special. I'm thankful for the day."
Slopestyle rider expectations about the quality of the course were high entering the contest. "I think it has huge potential," Horgmo said. "I know the pipe is really good. Slopestyle has more potential, I think.
"The jumps could always get better. That's probably repeating from almost every contest out there. We're doing big tricks here and there are a lot of expectations for us to do big tricks, so I kind of want to put a little bit of pressure on for the future for whoever's building the jumps, [and] the guys providing the snow for the builders."
The women had a little trouble with the jumps during the semifinals earlier in the week, when Jamie Anderson held the lead through most of the contest until Spencer O'Brien bumped her down to second place with her final run.
Due to increasing snowfall on Friday, the decision was made to cancel the women's slopestyle final -- and thus the chance to see two of the most dominant women in a rematch -- for safety. Results from the semis will stand as final results this year, giving O'Brien the win, Anderson second and Brooke Voight third.
"I think they made the right call today," said O'Brien, of the decision to cancel. "A lot of times TV takes precendent over rider safety and it's really awesome to come to an event where they sit down and they talk to us. They want the riders to be safe."
2013 Burton U.S. Open, Men's Slopestyle Finals
Burton U.S. Open 2013 Women's Slopestyle Finals