Courtesy of Red Bull Newsroom
Snowboard duo among star names for 35th anniversary of Burton US Open.
A year ago, an injured Anna Gasser was sat on her couch back at home watching the Burton US Open unfold. Meanwhile, Mark McMorris, also missing in action, was left to ponder what might have been.
Fit and re-firing, the pair will be among the favourites to take the plaudits at the longest-running event on the global snowboarding calendar, the Burton US Open.
It is 35 years since Paul Groves and his fellow snowboarders founded the National Snowboarding Championships in Vermont.
For this year, Vail Mountain welcomes the world’s best snowboarders to see if they can follow in the tracks of last year’s halfpipe winners Shaun White and Chloe Kim, as well as the slopestyle victors in Jamie Anderson and Kyle Mack.
Gasser may be relatively inexperienced at the event but her one outing there in 2015 resulted in a second place and she arrives in Vail off the back of three wins since returning from injury.
“It was hard to watch the contest from the couch last year,” she explained, “but I’m very excited for this year’s event. The US Open is one of the most unique and prestigious contests, and they always manage to build a creative and challenging course.
“With the vibes being so laid back and relaxed it makes it that much more fun to compete, and makes everyone push the level a little higher.”
McMorris, at least publicly, is downplaying his target for the event, which runs from Monday 27 February and culminates with the slopestyle finals on Friday 3 March and the halfpipe reaching its climax 24 hours later.
Chasing a share of the $343,000 prize purse on offer and a third slopestyle title here, he said: “My expectations going into this year’s US Open are to put together the best slope style run I can.”
The Burton US Open has changed beyond all recognition in three-and-a-half decades.
Over time, new twists have been added: a big air contest for the first time in 1995 and a first live television broadcast in 2003. Now thousands cling to the barriers to watch the action, infinitely more tune in from their couches, much like Gasser last year.