Competitive snowboarding marched right out of the Winter X Games into yet another massive weekend, and spectator eyeballs were glued to webcasts on two sides of the globe, as the Burton Canadian Open ran in Calgary and Billabong Air and Style in Innsbruck, Austria.
North of the 49th parallel, many of the A-list usual suspects were missing from slopestyle at the Burton Canadian Open, opting to drop in to the Big Air jump overseas instead. That made the event marquee of the third annual CANO less than headline worthy for some. However, with 50 Gs at stake, there were still some head-turning highlights.
It was a tough go through qualifying rounds with riders braving the gamut of winter elements, from Arctic cold to sun-baked slush, and a fierce competition field thrown at them. These varied conditions throughout the week coupled with a new TTR Live Scoring saw many hopefuls narrowly missing the opportunity to land in one of the top 10 men's or top six women's spots.
For the first time at the CANO, pipe finals went down at night under the lights. Kelly Clark, straight off X Games gold, easily led the charge by a wide margin with massive amplitude that ought to put many riders -- male and female -- to shame. Clark didn't repeat the 1080 she threw at Winter X, but she put down an untouchable run consisting of a huge Front Mute, Backside 5, Front 7, Cab 7 and Front 5.
Competition was tighter on the men's side, but in the end, it was Japanese rider Kohei Kudo who took the "open" philosophy of the contest to heart, making it all the way through the first qualifying rounds and capping the week off with a number one halpipe finish. The wind finally died off for everyone's second runs, but Kudo's first effort -- a huge back 5, front 10, Haakon Flip, and a set of 9s -- kept him in the lead the whole way through.
This was Kudo's first time on the podium, his stoke factor obviously high. "This is my first time to CANO and I'm very glad to win," Kudo said.
The smooth style of Swiss shred Christian Haller was enough to place him in third. Young Aussie Scotty James had a great night as well, going huge for the crowd and managing to snag the middle spot.
Blue skies were then swapped for grey and balmy Chinook temps dropped off during the slopestyle finals. The course featured four rails and a battleship wall ride leading into three final kickers -- affectionately nicknamed Red Eye, Hump Day and The Punctuator, by the heckling announcers. Speed was a major issue throughout the day as riders struggled to keep momentum through the jump line.
The three-run final format did lend a little leniency to the riders, allowing them to scrub out low scores. After a stellar second run by Canada's Zak Stone that put him on top, American Sam Hulbert's final run upset the Canadian fans and locked him in first. Hulbert's winning formula: Front 180, switch 50-50, switch backside 180 on the first rail, front board, boardslide 270, and 50-50 back 3, before rolling into the jumps with a switch back 9, front 1080 and a back 720.
Jamie Anderson dominated her first Canadian Open, as she has almost every other slope contest this year, save one. "It's my first Canadian Open and it feels great to win," Anderson said.
Both Christian Haller and Cilka Sadar briefly took over the TTR World Rankings following their pipe finishes Friday night. Haller now sits in second after Peetu Piiroinen's performance in Innsbruck but is the current leader in the Burton Global Open Series standings. Jamie Anderson is ranked number one in both TTR and BGOS standings after her first place slope finish at CANO.