Eagle’s Jake Pates tops American men in Burton Open semifinals in Vail
VAIL — Locals will have a snowboarder to cheer on in the Saturday halfpipe final at the Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships, as Eagle resident Jake Pates landed a solid run in Thursday’s semifinals to make it through in fifth position.
The men’s semifinal narrowed a field of 32 down to 10 qualifiers; Japanese snowboarder Yuto Totsuka was the top competitor to advance with a score of 89.37. Scotty James, of Australia, was just behind Totsuka with a score of 89.12.
Pates was the top scoring American on the day, and one of only two U.S. riders to make it through to Saturday’s final. Michigan native Danny Davis was able to sneak through in 10th position. Edwards snowboarder Ryan Wachendorfer landed a difficult series of tricks in his first run but was penalized on his execution when he put a hand down in the landing of his final hit. Wachendorfer finished 13th.
Japan will be the best represented nation in the men’s halfpipe finals on Saturday, with Raibu Katayama and Ruka Hirano also qualifying. Hirano, 16, is one of two-time Olympic silver medalist Ayumu Hirano’s younger brothers.
Katayama said the Japanese snowboarders are friends as well as rivals.
“Always, every day, every time, we push each other,” Katayma said. “We are getting higher and higher with each other.”
Scotty James, who won both X Games and the halfpipe snowboarding world championships this season, will also have a compatriot in the finals as Australian Kent Callister made it through, as well.
“I’m looking forward to Saturday, it’s going to be an exciting show,” James said. “I’m just grateful to be a part of it.”
CHLOE’S SNEAK PREVIEW
In the women’s halfpipe semifinals, which also took place on Thursday, Chloe Kim landed different runs in each of her two qualifying attempts to remind the competition why she is so tough to beat.
The last person to beat Kim in a contest was Kelly Clark, who announced her retirement earlier this season and called the contest from the booth at Golden Peak live on BurtonUSOpen.com.
Clark commended Kim on landing two different runs, “both of which would have won qualifiers,” she said.
From the bottom of the halfpipe, Kim told spectators her second run — where she landed a difficult switch backside 540 — was a taste of what’s to come in finals.
“Having one extra run . . . I use it as another practice run,” Kim said. “The last bit of my second run was kind of what I wanted to do in finals.”
Breckenridge snowboarder Arielle Gold and Maddie Mastro, of California, were the next highest qualifiers, followed by Japanese snowboarders Haruna Matsumoto and Sena Tomita. Former World Champion Xuetong Cai was the last competitor to make finals, qualifying in sixth position.
Aspen’s Fourth of July festivities came to a close after the sun had set on Monday with a laser light show.
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