Local Swiss favorite Iouri "I-Pod" Podladtchikov beat out American Danny Davis and Japanese rider Ryo Aono for his first Burton European Open halfpipe win on Saturday at Laax, Switzerland.
Podladtchikov's second-of-three runs included a frontside 900 tail grab, backside 900 mute grab, frontside double cork 1080, frontside grab, and Cab double cork mute grab, which posted a score that held strong through the finals, allowing him to make his third run a victory lap.
"It's home turf for me," Podladtchikov said, beaming after the podium presentation. "I can't even talk right now. It's just incredible."
Davis landed his first podium spot since his post-2010-back-injury return to competition. His second-place run was a return to form, featuring a Cab 1080 double cork indy grab, frontside 900 melon grab, backside 540 mute grab, Cab double cork 1080 frontside grab, and a switch alley-oop backside rodeo 540 nose grab.
"I was stoked to land one and stoked to be next to this fellow -- the ol' world champion," Davis, gesturing to Podladtchikov -- who won the World Snowboard Championships in February, "and Ryo down there."
Aono had been previously undefeated in Burton Global Open Series, with wins at the Burton Canadian Open in January and the Burton New Zealand Open in August. Aono scored 83.08 for his second run, featuring a frontside 1080 melon grab, Cab 1080 mute grab, frontside 900 melon grab, and backside 540 mute grab, then fell in run three while trying to upgrade his run with a massive frontside 1260. He now holds a commanding lead in the Burton Global Open Series and the the TTR World Snowboard Tour halfpipe ranking.
Haller, another Swiss rider competing in front of a hometown crowd, picked up the $5,000 Creative Use of Space award on Saturday from presenting sponsor Mini for his backside alley-oop seatbelt grab. The award encourages riders to throw creative tricks after bobbles in their previously-planned runs.
In the women's halfpipe final Kelly Clark beat out Gretchen Bleiler and Japanese rider Yuki Furihata to pick up her 16th halfpipe win. Her near-perfect streak, holding steady through the last two competition seasons as only been interrupted once, when a crash in practice caused her to miss the finals at the Burton Canadian Open in February.
"Sweet 16 feels pretty good," Clark said, after the competition. She was back in top form, taking first with a "safety run" featuring a frontside 900, backside 500, frontside 720 tail grab, and Cab 720 which she then improved in her second run by adding her now-signature frontside 1080.
Spanish rider Queralt Castellet, who won the Burton Canadian Open in Clark's absence last month after showing off a 1080 of her own, fell in all three of her runs in the Finals, meaning a proper 1080 showdown between the two will have to wait for either the Burton U.S. Open next week or Winter X Games Tignes 2012 after that.
Furihata made the Burton European Open podium in third place with a McTwist, crippler 540, backside air, frontside inverted 720, and Cab 5. Bleiler answered with a frontside 900 tail grab, frontside alley-oop mute grab, frontside tail grab, Cab 720, and frontside 540 in her second run, which put her into second. Unfortunately, she then crashed out on the deck in run three.
"That last fall was pretty brutal," Bleiler said, after the competition. "I hope I'm okay. I'm a little bummed because I didn't quite get my run and I hurt myself."
Bleiler's fall left Clark taking a victory lap in her third and final run and taking the opportunity to have a little fun with an alley-oop Andrecht handplant.
"I really wanted to do a handplant: That was my goal," Clark joked after the competition, but Clark's Andrecht fell just short of Cilka Sadar's backside alley-oop Japan air for the Creative Use of Space prize. "Cilka's backside airs are inspirational," Clark said.
The Burton Global Open Series concludes March 7-10 with the 30th anniversary Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships at Stratton Mountain in Vermont.