Japan’s Yuto Totsuka wins modified halfpipe contest at Burton US Open
VAIL — Japan’s Yuto Totsuka earned his first-ever Burton US Open win on Saturday, and Switzerland’s Jan Scherrer landed the first-ever alley-oop 900 in a modern snowboarding contest to finish second.
An alley-oop spin takes the rider back up the halfpipe, and can be especially difficult to perfect as the normal rotation sends the rider down the pipe.
Defending champion Scotty James finished third to share the podium with Scherrer for the first time in more than a decade.
James said that while he was disappointed with his third-place finish, he was impressed with the level of snowboarding from Totsuka and Scherrer. Totsuka landed a switch backside 1260, a switch frontside 1260, and a frontside 1440 in the contest. While the switch backside rotation was once rarely seen in the halfpipe, James has helped to make it a must-include rotation in any winning run, and on Saturday, Scherrer reminded everyone that alley-oop rotations add four more possibilities to the halfpipe, as well.
James said he was with Scherrer when he landed the alley-oop 900 for the first time, during a practice session in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.
“It was one of the best things I had ever seen,” James said. “That’s up there with the switch backside, it’s terrifying, and to do it the way Jan did it today, absolute credit to him.”
Evolution of tricks
While no one in attendance had ever seen an alley-oop 900 landed in a modern halfpipe contest, Scherrer said he has seen fellow Swiss snowboarder Markus Keller land one.
“We were shooting for a movie,” Scherrer said. “He did it like eight years ago.”
Scherrer said the trick is something you’re more likely to see a skier attempt in the 22-foot halfpipe. In 2017, halfpipe skier Taylor Seaton became the first athlete to ever land back-to-back alley-oop 900s during a contest.
“The hardest part about doing bigger alley-oop spins is you can’t stop the rotation afterward,” Scherrer said. “There’s probably more skiers doing it because they have two edges, so they can kind of stop rotation.”
In a text message, Seaton guessed, correctly, that Scherrer had performed the trick on his last hit.
“It was better to do it at the end,” Scherrer confessed.
Nevertheless, “I’m so impressed,” Seaton wrote. “I can’t imagine doing an oop 9 and landing with only one edge.”
James said he would like to see snowboarding’s progression go the direction of more alley-oop and switch backside spins. The gold and silver medal runs from the 2018 Olympics did not contain switch backside or alley-oop rotation.
“I think the evolution of tricks is heading in a healthy direction,” James said.
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