Reigning Olympic slopestyle champion Red Gerard was in it to win it from the start on Friday.
The 18-year-old from Silverthorne, Colorado, won his first Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships slopestyle snowboarding title in nearby Vail, earning the top score of the day on his very first run.
The win is Gerard’s first podium since earning gold at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 just over a year ago.
In the women’s competition earlier in the day, Olympian Julia Marino won the silver medal.
After qualifying first in the semifinals, Gerard was the last snowboarder to take the course. On his first run he went through the rail section with style and came out with speed then hit a switch backside 1260, a frontside double cork 1080 and a backside triple cork 1440 to score an 80.55.
The score held through the second round and into the third. Rather than watch everyone else take their final runs, Gerard paced in the woods behind the competitors’ tent at the top of the hill. Finally it was down to three, and after second-place finisher Sven Thorgren, of Sweden, and third-place Mark McMorris, the two-time defending champion from Canada, both fell, Gerard celebrated before taking his victory run.
Gerard’s previous best finish at the Burton U.S. Open was fifth place in 2016.
Up-and-comers Luke Winkelmann, from North Carolina, and Lyon Farrell, from Hawaii, finished in fourth and fifth place, respectively. It was the first Burton U.S. Open final for both riders. California’s Brock Crouch, who survived being buried in an avalanche in British Columbia last year, finished 10th.
This was Marino’s second medal in a row in slopestyle at the Open. She took the bronze at last year’s competition, in which the riders actually voted to cancel the final due to weather conditions and used the semifinal results to determine the winners.
The run of the day belonged to 17-year-old Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, of New Zealand, who won this year’s world championships and X Games and scored an 82.55 on her first run. Marino was the last one with a chance to beat her, but missed a landing on her final run and her earlier score of 80.35 held for second place. Olympian Hailey Langland was bumped off the podium late in the competition by Japan’s Miyabi Onitsuka, who finished third with a score of 78.85 on her last run.