From Vermont to Vail: A look back at the 36-year history of the Burton U.S. Open |

From Vermont to Vail: A look back at the 36-year history of the Burton U.S. Open

Ross Leonhart
Vail Daily
The Burton U.S. Open kicks off Monday, March 5.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily


Monday, March 5

Training: Slopestyle and halfpipe, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Late night live music: Kory Montgomery, 10 p.m., Shakedown

Tuesday, March 6

Junior Jam: 10 a.m., Golden Peak

Late night live music: Eddie Roberts Super Jam, 9 p.m., Shakedown

Wednesday, March 7

Semifinals: Slopestyle, women at 10 a.m.; men at 12:30 p.m., Golden Peak

Awards: Junior Jam awards and Olympic Rider welcome, 6 p.m., Solaris

Live music at Solaris: Monophonics and Dangermuffin, following awards ceremony, Solaris Concert Stage

Chill fundraising party: 8:30 p.m., Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum

Late night live music: Town Cavalry, 10 p.m., Shakedown

Thursday, March 8

Semifinals: Halfpipe, women at 10 a.m., men at 12:30 p.m., Golden Peak

Apres All Day: 4 p.m., Shakedown

Meet Red Gerard: 4:30 p.m., Burton Store in Lionshead

Live music at Solaris: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong (two sets), 6 p.m., Solaris Concert Stage

Late night live music: New Orleans Suspects, 10 p.m., Shakedown

Friday, March 9

Finals: Slopestyle, women at 11 a.m., men at 2 p.m., Golden Peak

Burton Girls Ride and Apres: 1 p.m., Burton Girls Tent, Sponsor Village.

Meet the Burton USA Olympic Team: 3:30 p.m., Burton Pop-Up Shop, Golden Peak

Meet Clif Bar Team Rider Elena Hight: 4 p.m., Clif Bar Booth, Sponsor Village, Golden Peak

Live music at Solaris: BORNS and Madaila, 6 p.m., Solaris Concert Stage

After Party: 9 p.m., Bol

Late night live music: The Medallions, 10 p.m., Shakedown

Saturday, March 10

Finals: Halfpipe, women at 11 a.m., men at 2 p.m., Golden Peak

Ride with the Burton Team: 12:30 p.m., Burton Pop-Up Shop, Golden Peak

Live music at Solaris: Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley & Itation Sound DJ Nickel B & Tosheba, 6 p.m., Solaris Concert Stage

Burton U.S. Open Closing Party: Music by DJ Hedspin, DeeJay Theory and DJ Cre8, 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., Dobson Ice Arena

Late night live music: Brothers Keeper, 10 p.m., Shakedown

Cut the curling, we just want the world’s best snowboarders — and from March 5-10, they’ll all return to Vail fresh off the Winter Olympics for the Burton U.S. Open.

The Burton U.S. Open all started back in 1982 — when many of today’s riders weren’t even born yet. For nearly 30 years the Open was held in Stratton, Vermont — Burton’s backyard. But in 2013, it moved to Vail, where it will return for its sixth year in 2018.

And just how big is the Burton U.S. Open to snowboarding? Seventeen-year-old Olympic gold medalist Red Gerard — out of Summit County — made it clear at his press conference after winning gold in South Korea.

“I always grew up just watching X Games, Dew Tour, (Burton) U.S. Open and all that, so to finally be here and realize this … I think I’m starting to get how big the Olympics is,” said Gerard, a member of the notorious shotgunning-beer family.

Founder Jake Burton could have taken the Open anywhere six years ago, and Vail is proving to be a perfect fit.

Here’s a look back at the history of the event, via, including the evolution of the contest.


The year it all began. Paul Graves and a tight group of Snurfers and snowboarders created the National Snowboarding Championships at a small mountain called Suicide Six in central Vermont. Jake Burton was there. Doug Bouton ripped the course and won it.


This year, the National Snowboarding Championships were held at Snow Valley, near Manchester, Vermont. No lifts — you hiked to ride. The boards and the riders were getting better and faster.


Snow Valley hosted the event for the second and last time. Andy Coghlan took both the men’s slalom and downhill events. It was his first of several Open titles—– he was now the man to beat.


The event officially became the U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships and moved to Stratton Mountain. Riders rode in speed suits to increase their times. Tom Sims won the men’s slalom event while Andy Coghlan defended his downhill title.


The event was gaining popularity faster than anyone expected. Over 200 competitors showed up for pre-qualifiers. Andy Coghlan won both the slalom and downhill events, adding to his growing list of Open titles.


Craig Kelly was on the scene and won the men’s slalom event.


The halfpipe made its debut at the U.S. Open and was immediately deemed the standard for all other competitive halfpipes to follow. Craig Kelly captured the Overall title. An ice storm turned the hill into concrete the night before the event began.


This is the year the press started to show up — not just the locals and the snowboard magazines — but media from all over. Craig Kelly won his first U.S. Open halfpipe title and the last U.S. Open downhill competition.


Terje Haakonsen made his debut in the U.S. Open halfpipe on a Micro Air. He was up against tough competition including Craig Kelly, Shaun Palmer and Jeff Brushie. Craig Kelly won the halfpipe title again for the second year in a row.


The rider and crowd size doubled. Janna Meyen beat out reigning champ Tina Basich in the women’s halfpipe. With bigger pipe walls, lots of riders threw down inverts for the first time in a competition.


It just kept getting bigger and better. Terje Haakonsen exploded onto the scene and took the men’s halfpipe with control and amplitude, beating out Jeff Brushie, who was on his new Burton pro model. Tricia Byrnes won the women’s halfpipe, edging out reigning champ Janna Meyen.


Fresh snow and bluebird skies — what could be better? Shannon Dunn emerged on the scene. Terje Haakonsen rode his first Burton pro model to a second consecutive halfpipe victory. And what did founder Jake Burton have to say? “The best thing about the U.S. Open is that anyone from Terje Haakonsen to a 10-year-old kid from New Jersey gets to ride and hang out with their friends in a rider-controlled environment.”


The crowds and riding were huge. Shannon Dunn and Todd Richards dominated the halfpipe contests. Terje Haakonsen sat this year out with an ankle injury.


The Big Air contest made its debut at the Open. Terje Haakonsen triumphantly returned and won the men’s halfpipe for a third time. Victoria Jealouse appeared on the scene and won the women’s super-G.


This was the year the face of competitive snowboarding changed forever. It was announced that snowboarding would be featured in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. Snowboarding was here to stay, and the U.S. Open was bigger and better than ever. Peter Line and Cara-Beth Burnside took home the Big Air crowns. And Jimi Scott and Satu Jarvela won halfpipe.


The halfpipe event drew a massive crowd of more than 10,000 spectators. Todd Richards narrowly edged out then-current halfpipe world champion Terje Haakonsen, while Barret Christy ruled the women’s pipe contest. The Big Air finals saw huge inverted airs. It just kept getting bigger.


“The Year of the Mist.” It was so foggy, you couldn’t see from the top to the bottom of the pipe. Mike Michalchuk threw down an unthinkable double backflip and Terje Haakonsen pulled out a mammoth final run. But nobody could top Rob Kingwill, whose smooth and consistent riding earned him the halfpipe title. Nicola Thost had just won the first Olympic halfpipe contest and went on to win the U.S. Open halfpipe title. The boardercross competition made its debut this year as well.


Hometown hero Ross Powers stole the show and won the halfpipe contest with huge McTwists and 900s. Nicola Thost won the women’s halfpipe title for the second year running.


The new millennium brought the first superpipe to the U.S. Open — a 300-foot-long monster with 15-foot walls. This was the year of Canadian domination in the halfpipe, with Guillaume Morisset and Natasza Zurek bringing home the win for Canada.


Danny Kass took the coveted halfpipe title this year, edging out Vermont’s Abe Teter by two-tenths of a point. And for the second straight year, Natasza Zurek dominated the women’s pipe contest, bringing home another title.


Just one month after snowboarding dominated the Olympics, the U.S. Open went down with more media and spectator attention than ever before. Over 30,000 people descended on Stratton. It was the first time most of the Olympians had competed against each other since the explosive event in Salt Lake City. Danny Kass may have gotten silver at the Olympics, but he wasn’t about to settle for second at the Open. He defended his title and won halfpipe for the second year running. Kelly Clark kept her gold streak alive, winning both the quarterpipe and halfpipe events at the Open.


It was a year of firsts in 2003. The Open held its first Rail Jam ever, won by Travis Rice. It was the first time the Open was broadcast live on TV. And Philips was the first title sponsor of the U.S. Open. Ross Powers joined the elite group of two-time U.S. Open halfpipe champions, winning the event in a tight final competition. Gretchen Bleiler dominated the women’s halfpipe competition. Shaun White won the slopestyle event, and Hannah Teter won the best overall rider award.


The 22nd annual U.S. Open welcomed women into the rail jam for the first time with Leanne Pelosi claiming the top spot. Kelly Clark won halfpipe and joined the elite group of two-time U.S. Open halfpipe champions. Up-and-comers Priscilla Levac and Jake Blauvelt won slopestyle. Terje Haakonsen made a surprise appearance, treating the halfpipe crowd to one poached run after another. And Danny Kass threw down one of the best runs of his career, winning his third U.S. Open halfpipe title and the Overall Champion title.


Danny Kass became the first rider ever to win four U.S. Open halfpipe titles. Janna Meyen won her first U.S. Open title since her win in 1991. Eddie Wall, Leanne Pelosi, Danny Kass, Gretchen Bleiler, Risto Mattila and Janna Meyen all earned championship titles in the rail jam, halfpipe and slopestyle respectively. Risto Mattila won the men’s Best Performance Award for his sixth place standing in the men’s halfpipe finals and first in slopestyle. And Leanne Pelosi won first place in the rail jam after competing in the halfpipe semifinals and placing second in slopestyle.


The 24th annual U.S. Open wrapped up with 2006 Olympic gold medalist Shaun White winning both the U.S. Open halfpipe and slopestyle events. The revival of the quarterpipe contest saw Danny Davis and Hana Beaman at the top podium spots. Shaun White and Torah Bright earned their first U.S. Open halfpipe titles. White’s unbeatable skills and Beaman’s two wins at the event earned them the Most Valuable Rider awards. Up-and-comers Chas Guldemond and Ellery Hollingsworth claimed the Ski-Doo Outstanding Rookie awards, and Matieu Crepel was crowned the Global Ticket To Ride (TTR) Tour Men’s Champion.


The U.S. Open’s 25th anniversary — Shaun White and Torah Bright won the first-ever Burton Global Open Series Championship titles. Jake Burton presented both White and Bright with a $100,000 check, currently the largest single payout in competitive snowboarding history. White won the halfpipe competition alongside Kelly Clark, who received her third U.S. Open halfpipe title. Friday’s slopestyle finals took place despite blizzard conditions. Travis Rice, who had been competing at the Open since 1998, and Jamie Anderson won the slopestyle finals.


Glory, fame and fortune were on the line at the 26th U.S. Open, where the world’s top riders battled for a total of $471,500. Torah Bright and Shaun White took home the halfpipe championships. White and Kjersti Buaas took first in slopestyle. The Most Valuable Riders turned out to be Cheryl Maas and White. Cheryl Maas and Tim Humphreys took home the top spots in Big Air. Torah Bright and Peetu Piiroinen took home the overall titles in the Burton Global Open Series.


Epic weather and impeccable riding greeted over 30,000 fans as Danny Kass took home his record-setting fifth U.S. Open halfpipe title and Torah Bright earned her third U.S. Open halfpipe title. In slopestyle, Chas Guldemond and Kjersti Buaas won slopestyle finals and $20,000 each. Chas Guldemond and Jamie Anderson became the new Burton Global Open Series Champions, each taking home $100,000. Scotty Lago and Kjersti Buaas won the Most Valuable Rider Awards. And last but not least, Peetu Piiroinen was crowned the new Men’s Swatch TTR World Tour Champion.


Bright sun and warm temps rolled through Vermont for a fan-friendly weekend of impressive riding on slushy features. Kazuhiro Kokubo won his first U.S. Open halfpipe with his unique style. Kelly Clark had a record-setting homecoming, becoming the first woman to win four U.S. Open halfpipe titles. Mikkel Bang took the lead in slopestyle, dropping an insane 98.00 score to seal his title. Sina Candrian had her slopestyle title wrapped up from the very beginning. The season’s big winner, however, was Peetu Piiroinen, who bagged both the TTR and BGOS titles — for the second time.


Kazuhiro Kokubo won his second consecutive U.S. Open halfpipe title, which he dedicated to tsunami-ravaged Japan. Kelly Clark stole the show with a record fifth consecutive U.S. Open halfpipe title and her first Burton Global Open Series championship. Eric Willett and Enni Rukajärvi won their first U.S. Open titles in slopestyle, but not without some stiff competition. Charles Reid and Kjersti Buaas laid down creative runs for the top spots in The Jam. Jamie Anderson and Peetu Piiroinen locked in wins for the second and third times, respectively, in the TTR World Tour rankings. Piiroinen took home the BGOS title as well.


The 30th U.S. Open raged on at Stratton Mountain, its home for three decades. A freak snowstorm couldn’t prevent Seb Toots and Jamie Anderson from sweeping slopestyle with ease. Shaun White stomped his first run and took home another U.S. Open halfpipe title. Elena Hight ended Kelly Clark’s winning streak and seized her first U.S. Open Championship. The Jam put competitors under the lights on a monstrous course with all types of jib, jump and transition features. Chas Guldemond and Kjersti Buass walked away with best air accompanied by Shaun Murphy and Christy Prior for best rail.


At its new home in Vail the 31st U.S. Open received a Rocky Mountain weather sampler of sun, pow and slush. In slopestyle, Mark McMorris won his first U.S. Open title, while Spencer O’Brien inched out Jamie Anderson for the women’s win. Shaun White snagged his fifth U.S. Open halfpipe victory. The 14-year old Ayumu Hirano took a close second behind White, and also became 2013’s World Snowboard Tour Halfpipe Champion. Kelly Clark stacked up the most U.S. Open halfpipe titles ever and took home her third World Snowboard Tour title. Mark McMorris’ win made him the World Snowboard Tour slopestyle champion, and Sarka Pancochova grabbed the same title for women’s.


The 32nd U.S. Open saw a flurry of firsts on the podium and some unique style. It started with Mark McMorris taking his second consecutive U.S. Open slopestyle win, alongside Jamie Anderson for the women. Then Taylor Gold wowed the crowds with creative runs featuring tricks like double Michaelchucks and a chicken salad crippler. Meanwhile Terje Haakonsen, Danny Davis, Ben Ferguson and a slew of others poached the course and put on an incredible show. Kelly Clark took her seventh halfpipe title, further solidifying her record for most U.S. Open wins.


Keeping with tradition, the 33rd U.S. Open brought a wave of broken records and upsets. While defending slopestyle champion Mark McMorris put down a staggering run, linking back-to-back triple cork 1440s, it was Yuki Kadono who took first with a flawless rail section into back-to-back triple cork 1620s — a competition first. Jamie Anderson took home her fourth U.S. Open slopestyle gold, followed by Anna Gasser. Kelly Clark took home her eighth (yes, eighth) U.S. Open halfpipe gold, and Taku Hiraoka earned the biggest win of his career in the highly competitive men’s halfpipe field.


The stoke level was high at the 34th annual U.S. Open with Shaun White returning to the top of the halfpipe podium with a huge 7-point lead ahead of the second place finisher. White blew spectator’s minds and blew up social media with his massive 25-foot backside air on his first hit in the pipe. A 15-year-old Chloe Kim bested her 2015 second-place halfpipe finish earning first place landing back-to-back 1080s. Jamie Anderson continued her reign in slopestyle, once again taking the top spot and Kyle Mack took the win for the men stomping back-to-back triple cork 1440s on the last two slopestyle jumps.


The 35th annual U.S. Open once again featured a historical leap in progression. Anna Gasser won her first U.S. Open title by putting down arguably the greatest women’s slopestyle run of all time, with heavy rail combos and massive airs that included a Cab double underflip. Mark McMorris dominated slopestyle with a run that featured spins all four ways including a huge switch backside triple cork 1620 melon. Shaun White and Chloe Kim both soundly defended their respective halfpipe titles. White upped his winning run with a Cab double cork 1440 mute (his first in competition) to earn a 10-point lead, while Kim improved her score each consecutive run with tricks like a massive frontside 1080 tail grab.

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