Castellet, Aono top halfpipe podiums
Spanish snowboarder Queralt Castellet beat out Americans Gretchen Bleiler and Ellery Hollingsworth to win the women's Halfpipe finals at the Burton Canadian Open on Friday night, grabbing $10,000 after posting a Run 2 score of 84.73 with a run that featured a frontside 900, backside 540 mute, frontside 540, a backside air, and her first frontside 1080. That makes Castellet just the second rider to land a 1080 in women's halfpipe competition: Kelly Clark has been dominating the women's field with the trick for the past year, winning an unprecedented 13 halfpipe competitions in a row.
"I am very excited to win tonight as this was my first time at the Canadian Open, my first time landing a frontside 1080 and my first time winning at an Open," Queralt said in a statement after the competition. "I feel really, really good tonight."
Friday marked the end of Clark's long streak: She was injured in practice after taking second in the semifinals at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, Alberta, and pulled out of the finals, meaning the Clark vs. Castellet 1080 showdown will have to wait until a later date.
"After a fall in practice and not feeling 100 percent still today, Kelly made the tough, but right, call to sit this one out," Burton spokeswoman Susie Floros said via BurtonGirls.com.
Castellet has been a podium regular on the Burton Global Open Series and on the TTR World Tour. Her win on Friday pushes her into second place in the TTR Women's Overall World Tour rankings, behind Slovakian rider Cilka Sadar, and into first place -- ahead of Clark and Bleiler -- in the TTR Women's Halfpipe World Tour rankings, after podium finishes at the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colo., in December and the Burton New Zealand Open in August.
She's also been making a name for herself with recent podium finishes on the Winter Dew Tour, and is a two-time Olympian. Having the 1080 in her bag of tricks will make her one to watch in any future women's competition and make her Clark's first serious challenger in more than a year.
Bleiler won semifinals at the Burton Canadian Open, qualifying ahead of Clark and Hollingsworth, and took second place in the finals with a Run 2 score of 81.28 for her frontside crippler, backside 540 mute, frontside 720 tail grab, Cab 720 Indy, and frontside tail grab. Hollingsworth held on for third, improving to 76.68 in Run 3 with a Michalchuk on her first hit, followed by a huge frontside stalefish air, backside 540 mute, frontside 720, and Cab 900. Other riders in the women's Halfpipe finals at the fourth annual Burton Canadian Open included Sadar, Canadian Sarah Conrad, American Hannah Teter, and Swiss rider Ursina Haller. Conrad won the "Creative Use of Space" award, presented by event sponsor Mini, for her switch alley-oop 720.
Japanese rider Ryo Aono was on top in the men's final, beating out Finnish riders Markus Malin and Janne Korpi to take the $10,000 prize. Aono's Run 2 score of 90.13 for a run featuring a Cab 1080, frontside 540, backside 900 tail grab, frontside 1080, and Cab 720 held strong, leaving Aono room to take a victory lap in Run 3.
"I am so very happy right now to have won," Aono said, in a statement after the competition. "I have been to Calgary before but this is my first Open here. It was great with so many people watching and giving off good vibes."
Malin took an early lead in Run 1, posting a score of 86.60 with a huge frontside air, backside 540 mute, frontside double cork 1080, Cab 720, frontside 540 melon, and backside 900, but failed to improve in subsequent runs. Korpi would also have to hang on to his Run 1 score, 85.38, for a run that included a frontside air, backside 900 mute, frontside 1080 tail grab, Cab 1080 tail grab, and an alley-oop backside rodeo 540 nose grab. Korpi won the "Creative Use of Space" award for his alley-opp backside rodeo 540 nose grab.
Other top finishers in the 16-man final included Canadian Derek Livingston, Australian Scotty James, Japanese rider Tasuku Ishizaki, Swiss rider Jan Scherrer, and 14-year-old American Kyle Mack.
Aono's having a big year: He won bronze in SuperPipe at the Winter X Games last week -- behind Shaun White and Iouri Podladtchikov -- and won the Burton New Zealand Open in August. Friday's win bumps Aono into first place in the TTR Men's Halfpipe World Tour rankings, ahead of Americans Benji Farrow and Kent Callister.
Men's and Women's Slopestyle finals at the Burton Canadian Open will take place Saturday, and will be webcast live on redbull.tv. The Burton Canadian Open is a 5Star event on the TTR World Tour and the second of four contests in the Burton Global Open Series; the 13th annual Burton European Open is scheduled for Feb. 25-March 3 at Laax in Switzerland, and the 30th annual Burton U.S. Open is scheduled for March 5-12, 2012 at Stratton Mountain in Vermont.