Calgarians get a taste of slopestyle

The third Annual Burton Canadian Open — a rare megacontest for all snowboarders — was in full swing this past weekend at Canada Olympic Park. Since the competition has an open style format, any snowboarder can enter the competition, but must make it through various preliminary rounds. Only professionals are given a bye to the finals.

This is the largest competition in Canada with a total of $50,000 purse prize for the winning riders. The only comparison to this type of event would be the X Games.

Not only was last weekend a snowboarder’s dream, but was also the place to be for high-class, free entertainment. Mix Master Mike from the Beastie Boys was at the awards ceremony. Terry and Dean from Fubar hosted the beer tent on Friday night, giving out autographs and sharing laughs with the crowds.

The Burton Open also consists of slopestyle and halfpipe events. Halfpipe was introduced as an Olympic sport for the first time in 1998. The newest emerging winter sport is the slopestyle event, where riders go through a course with jumps, gaps, rails and boxes. Slopestyle is currently not recognized as an Olympic sport, but it may be recognized as one soon. It was recently inducted along with Big Air to FIS Snowboarding World Cup.

“Slopestyle is a part of snowboarding that many people who don’t snowboard really have no clue about,” said local snowboarder Dave Greenstone. “Many people prefer watching the slopestyle event.”

Last weekend lots of riders lit up the course (with a few bails along with them). The halfpipe championships went down on Friday Night with Kelly Clark of USA finishing first, followed by Cilka Sadar of Slovenia in second and Canadian rider Mercedes Nicoll finishing in third. Nova Scotia native Sarah Conrad finished sixth place. As for the men’s final, no Canadians cracked the top ten. Kohei Kudo of Japan finished first, Scotty James of Australia finished second and Christian Haller of Switzerland finished in third place. Canadian snowboarder Justin Lamoureux, who finished seventh place at the 2010 Olympics, finished eleventh place in the qualifying round, missing the finals by just one spot.

Each year many Canadians enter the Open for the chance to be recognized on a global scale.

“This is a great opportunity for local riders to get noticed on a large scale,” said Burton designer Josh Kaplan. “When you look at the main sponsors of this event, they include some of the top brands of the world, let alone just North America. This is an ultimate experience for a local rider or someone less known to do well and eventually progress to sponsorship.”

This weekend saw just that, as Ontario native Zak Stone finished second place in the men’s slopestyle and Francis Bourgeois of Quebec finished in third place. On the women’s side, no Canadians managed to get into the final round. Local Calgarian Breanna Stangeland finished in eighth place followed by Brooke Voight from Fort McMurray, Alberta.

The warm weather allowed for a successful and well attended event.

“There is definitely way more people here than last year, I think a lot more people are curious how the sport is progressing,” said Greenstone.

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