Kazu Kokubo Wins US Open Halfpipe With Style
At one of the most coveted events in snowboard history, the 28th annual Burton US Open Halfpipe event was greeted with sunny skies and spring conditions. This year’s halfpipe was wet and sloppy like the famous pork sandwich served at Stratton’s resort lodge. And the riders were taking advantage of the conditions by throwing huge inverted tricks and a few of the crowd favorites methods were showcased as well.
In a season of Olympic qualifications the level of pipe riding has grown very quickly compared to the past 4 years. 2010 will go down as the year of the double cork 10’s and 12’s. And a podium didn’t go by this season without all three riders at least having a double in their run. This year’s US Open was the final major halfpipe event of the year, and minus a few super stars with Olympic burnout the rider’s field was one of the most talented all year.
And it was Oakley’s Signature Series rider Kazuhiro Kokubo of Hokkaido, Japan who styled his way to first place. His run consisted of a frontside 900 melon, McTwist Chicken Wing followed by two 1080’s and ended his run with a double cork 1080.
“It was so great to win here, especially because my good friends Mikkel Bang and Charles Reid also won titles, which made my win feel even better,” said Kazuhiro Kokubo.
Many of the Oakley snowboard team riders made the finals or narrowly missed the final 16. Italy’s Manuel Pietropoli was riding strong all day and ended up in 9th. Ben Watts placed 13th and Matt Ladley in 16th. Norway’s Stale Sandbech just missed finals with a 17th place finish.
Closing the season at the US Open always has its advantages, and the judges took this opportunity to reward style over technical riding. While the top 3 riders on the podium could have easily been arranged any way possible, ultimately in the end it was the judge’s call to put Kazu in first and make a statement to the snowboard industry. That double corks and super technical spins are the latest rage, but at this event style is and always will be the meter to judge off of.
1 15 Kokubo Kazuhiro JPN 97.17 Oakley Eyewear
2 45 Vito Louie USA S 96.17
3 49 Podladtchikov Iouri SUI 96.00