Scotty James finally gets his long-coveted Burton US Open win
VAIL — There was a true changing of the guard at Golden Peak this year, as every competitor who won in the 2019 Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships had never finished on top in that event before.
Probably the least surprising of all those wins was that of Scotty James, who has yet to finish second in the 2018-19 season.
In winning in Vail on Saturday, James said it was the completion of a dream that’s been more than a decade in the making. His first U.S. Open appearance was in 2007 when he was just 12 years old.
“I went with my mom, when it was in Vermont, and I remember just saying to her that I’d love to be a part of the halfpipe finals one day,” he said. “Now, to be crowned U.S. Open champion, I’m absolutely speechless.”
DIFFICULT ROTATION LOCATION
In fashion for this season, several men were performing the difficult switch backside rotation, considered the most difficult of all the ways to spin down the pipe on a snowboard.
James drew a lot of attention to the switch backside rotation when he started landing a backward version of the Double McTwist, a trick popularized by Shaun White in the run up to the 2010 Olympics. James’ switch Double McTwist — a switch backside double cork 1260 — had never been landed by another athlete in competition, and still has not.
Three competitors did land different switch backside tricks in their finals runs at the 2019 Burton U.S. Open, however.
In another new trend, fans saw several athletes’ hardest tricks coming first in several instances, a move White ushered in at the 2018 Olympics when he started his gold medal run with back-to-back double cork 1440s.
At that time, James was performing his most difficult trick, the switch backside doublecork 1260, as the last trick in his run. The run earned James the bronze at the Olympics.
In December, James started off the season at the Grand Prix in Copper Mountain, where he performed his switch backside double cork in the middle of the run.
By the second competition of the season, the Dew Tour in Breckenridge, James’ first hit in the pipe was the switch backside double cork, and his second trick in the pipe was his second most difficult. He stuck with that formation for the rest of the season, landing it at the Laax Open, X Games and the Burton U.S. Open. He won all of the above mentioned contests.
“If you put the hard tricks first, it’s putting you at more risk for the rest of the run,” James said. “I wanted to put my hardest tricks first, and show that I was able to carry speed and execute the rest of my run after doing my hardest thing first.”
Jake Pates, who threw his most difficult trick in his final hit to win Dew Tour last season, also started performing his hardest trick in his first hit this season.
Pates performs the backside doublecork 1260 with a tail grab, a signature maneuver not seen from any other competitors.
“I think that’s how I’m going to start doing stuff more. I like to put that hard one up top just to give myself a little extra coinage if I can,” Pates said on Saturday. “Then the easiest part comes after.”
PATES PUTS ON A SHOW
Pates, the only local competitor to make finals at the Burton U.S. Open, ended up struggling on a less technical trick on Saturday, a frontside 540 with a stalefish grab, supersized for maximum amplitude.
In trying to muscle out the landing after the massive air, “I was just kind of collapsing in the flat bottom,” Pates said.
He finished 10th on Saturday.
Pates, 20, has now competed in the Burton U.S. Open halfpipe competitions seven times.
“I’m super happy when I make finals here, because this is the main event,” Pates said. “Everyone comes out, this crowd is insane when it’s finals time. I don’t even care what the result was, where I end up. I just want to have some fun and put on a good show.”
Japanese competitors Raibu Katayma and Yuto Totsuka finished second and third, respectively.