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Top stars ‘no show’ at US Snowboarding Open Championships

Sunday’s United States Open Snowboarding Championships final was somewhat lackluster, with several of the sport’s biggest stars out with injuries. Several contenders for spots on the United States Olympic team next season were absent, including Mason Aguirre, Danny Davis and Kevin Pearce.

But the most conspicuous absence was that of Shaun White, a gold medal winner in the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy, and the defending champion in halfpipe and slopestyle at the Open. White pulled out of competition before the halfpipe finals Saturday afternoon with an ankle injury. He injured his left ankle during training last week. A trainer worked with him Saturday morning, but White decided he could not compete. By doing so, White forfeited a chance to win the Ticket to Ride World Snowboard Tour championship.

After competing in the slopestyle finals the women who finished in the top three spots engaged in another competition at the awards ceremony to see who could drink a bottle of Champagne the fastest. Just as on the mountain, Kjersti Oestgaard Buaas won. “My mom would probably be like, Ohhh,” Oestgaard Buaas said, shaking her head. Speed on the course was another matter.

After several days of sun and warm weather, a snow squall blew through the Green Mountains just as the finals began. That led to poor visibility and slowed the slopestyle course so that several riders struggled to gain enough speed to launch over the jumps. “I still had speed for my first run, but no vision,” said Oestgaard Buaas, a 26-year-old from Norway, who won her second consecutive slopestyle title at the United States Open.

Eventually, the skies cleared in time for Oestgaard Buaas, and for Chas Guldemond in the men’s final, to produce winning runs on the 1,800-foot-long course, which consisted of two rails and four jumps.

On her third and final run, Oestgaard Buaas pulled her winning routine, a nosepress to 180 spin off the rail, followed by a 540 spin, a backside 360, a frontside 360, and finished with a frontside 720 — two full rotations — for a score of 92.0. Jenny Jones of Britain finished second with a score of 87.0, and Chanelle Sladics of Newport Beach, Calif., third with a 73.0.

Oestgaard Buaas, who finished fourth in the women’s halfpipe final Saturday, was named the women’s best overall rider.

For Guldemond, of Laconia, N.H., the stormy New England weather was no problem. He put together a winning run on his first run with a 270-degree spin onto the rail, and a 180 off, followed by a backside 900 spin, a backside 1,260 — four rotations — and finished with a 900-degree spin for a score of 94.5. “I don’t ever mind cruddy conditions,” Guldemond said. “I do pretty good in bad conditions.”

The United States Open was Guldemond’s 22nd competition this season. With the victory, he also clinched the Burton Global Open Series championship, a six-stop series. The payday for the two amounted to $120,000.

Sébastien Toutant, a 16-year-old from Montreal, was second in men’s slopestyle with a score of 92.17. Toutant had a loud cheering section during each of his runs. Afterward, his fans chanted, “Olé, olé, olé,” when his name was announced at the awards ceremony. Scotty Lago, of Seabrook, N.H., finished third with a score of 90.83.

Lago also won the quarterpipe competition at the Open on Friday night and was named the men’s best overall rider. “I am so pumped being the best overall rider at a contest with so much history,” Lago said about the Open, now in its 27th year. “Today is the best day I’ve ever had in snowboarding.” For the men, the Open was the last competitive event before the Olympic qualifying season begins next winter.

But with White out, Peetu Piiroinen, of Finland, clinched the season points standings and received the award Sunday night. Piiroinen finished second in the halfpipe finals Saturday and fourth in slopestyle. Jamie Anderson, the defending champion of the women’s T.T.R. World Tour, missed the Open competition because of an injury. Anderson leads the points standings this season heading into the final women’s event at the Roxy Chicken Jam from March 27 to 29 at Mammoth Mountain, Calif. Oestgaard Buaas is seventh in the standings. With her victory Sunday, she remains in contention for the title.

So whats all this slopestyle about – if you are new to the sport of snowboarding we thought you would be interested to see what we are talking about above when we refer to Oestgaard Buaas and Chas Gudemond runs above – 180 spins off the rail/onto the rail, 1,260s, backside 900 spins, frontside 720s……well check out the action from the 2007 US Open which was also held at Stratton, Vermont – thanks GuerillaGuru for the great video – now see if you can determine what spins these dudes are demonstrating.

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