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"The World's Greatest Snowboard Event"; Right Here in Our Own Backyard

Elizabeth Foster

On March 3-8, the 32nd Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships took place up in Vail. In the Halfpipe event, USA’s Kelly Clark (with six previous titles), had just received a disappointing fourth place in the Sochi Olympics, but was still the favorite to win. Young 13 year old Chloe Kim, also from the US, was aiming to be the youngest world champion in the history of the Open.

Queralt Castellet (Spain), the second favorite coming into the finals, said, “I knew I could enjoy this contest versus the Olympics. I felt like I could just have fun and ride. Compared to Sochi, there was a very different environment.”
The results of the Women’s Halfpipe finals had Clark in first, Castellet in second, and Kim in third. Meanwhile, Hannah Teter got fourth with over ten points behind Kim.
In the press conference that followed, Clark told the crowd that she and Kim were good friends and had met when Chloe was just 10. “Chloe is one of the most amazing up and coming riders,” Clark said. “I told the US team that they would be missing a big opportunity if they didn’t pick up Chloe.”
Kim said that she loved the sport that she competed in. “Taking ownership of the sport is important as a teenager,” she said. When one reporter reminded her that she was the youngest world champion ever, she responded by, “Yeah, I think that’s actually pretty cool!”
All three of the finalists agreed that snowboarding is all about inspiring people. “I don’t care about the results,” Kim said, “I just wanna have fun!” Clark added that winning is just a byproduct of the snowboarding.
When asked what advice she would give to less experienced riders, Kim said, “Just don’t give up. It’s all about the snowboarding. If you don’t like it, don’t do it. But if you love it, then keep believing in yourself and you can really do anything.”
Similarly, Clark responded with, “Nothing is impossible. If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything. Don’t let anything stop you and chase your dreams.”
The Men’s Halfpipe Finals concluded with Taylor Gold in first (USA), Taku Hiraoka in second (Japan), and David Habluetzel in third (Switzerland). Gold seemed to have the same mindset as the girls; “Have fun and focus on enjoying and riding. That’s the best way to have success.” He also believed that the group of riders were great. “Most of us were under 21, which was cool because I think the next generation is coming up now.”
When asked about the pipe, Habluetzel said, “It was amazing ... I’m so stoked. I’ve never rode a better pipe.”

Clark noted that Sochi had been “SO intense. This was just fun, and the halfpipe was in perfect condition. If I could pick a contest to win, it would be this one.”