Australia’s Nate Johnstone was launching huge switch frontside 1080 melons first hit in the pipe.
All Photos by Krystle Wright
The 7th Annual Burton NZ Open has been toted as the most progressive halfpipe snowboarding event ever seen on our green and blue planet. It was a warm-up and a display of the level of halfpipe snowboarding that we can expect at the 2010 Olympic games coming up in February.
The event was the first chance riders had to display their new tricks, lines and combinations that they’ve been working hard on over the summer. Like a coming out party, the double-cork was proven to be the new necessary trick to have in combo format if you want to podium. It used to be the back-to-back 1080, but that’s old school now – forget it unless you want to stick to the middle field. In the winning run of the pipe, Shaun White dropped a switch double corked 1080 to frontside double cork 900 combo at the end of his run. Add to that a flat frontside 1080 and 3 other 20 foot-out burly hits and Shaun White is still setting the global standard – making a clear statement to other contenders for the Olympic Gold along the way.
The expectations were high for Shaun coming into the NZ Open after it was highly publicised that he had a personal 500 foot long 22-foot high halfpipe built just for him and his Olympic training by his sponsors in the backcountry of Silverton Mountain in Colorado. “Apparently Red Bull, with some help from Oakley, hauled in cats and a pipe dragon to build this secret stash worthy of White’s video game on the backside of Silverton at an estimated cost of $500k USD. The pipe, situated at 12,300 feet is the highest in the world, and can only be accessed by sled or chopper. Word is that there’s a foam pit off one wall as well to allow team riders to go for broke without getting broke off. Here’s a shot that includes the pit” Said Transworld Business.
Although Shaun White did rule the event, there is a little more interest for us Down Under shredders in the performance of Sydney’s NATE JOHNSTONE who not only qualified 5th for the finals but also unleashed a heavy hitting combination of tricks that included a cab 1080 first hit and a frontside double cork 1080 that is reported to be the best looking double cork in the pipe. Albeit he didn’t land one in his 3 runs unfortunately, but with Nate’s silky style the 19 year old will have a nudge at the podium at the Vancouver Olympics.
In the slopestyle it was interesting to see the top pipe riders not in the podium contenders. Rather the gap and skill set is widening between the two events with specialising slopestyle riders shredding well away from the “pipe-Jocks” into a “Slope-Jock” realm of their own. Or should we call it Slop-Jock? The Double Cork was also alive on the slopestyle course at the Open, but with less fanfare (as it’s been around a while), although the eventual men’s winner Sebatien Toutant from Canada did bring something new to the table unleashing a backside 1440 melon (not in the event) that had calculators out and onlookers scratching their heads. He was regularly stomping a double cork backside 1080 to take the win.