Women continue pushing sport of snowboarding; Gasser wins Burton Open slope finals in Vail
VAIL — There’s a new Burton U.S. Open women’s slopestyle champion.
Anna Gasser, of Austria, ended Jamie Anderson’s dominant run as three-time defending slopestyle champion with a winning score of 83.8. The rest of the field joined Gasser in the finish area after her victory lap to help celebrate another step forward in women’s snowboarding.
“It’s really hard to believe,” Gasser said. “It’s always been a contest I’ve looked up to and the Burton U.S. Open is always a highlight of my season, so to win it is so special for me.”
After Spencer O’Brien took the lead in the second round, Gasser immediately followed with the winning run that included a cab 270 on and off, cab boardslide 270 out, cab double underflip, backside 720 mule, boardslide and front 720 melon.
O’Brien finished third and Anderson finished second with a final run that included a cab boardslide 450 out on the Red Bull Party Island feature, a trick she only did once in practice. Anderson was also competing with an injured elbow.
“It was so hard because this is my favorite event of the year and I didn’t want to skip it, but I also wanted to look out for my overall wellness,” Anderson said. “I just took it really slow and eased into it.”
Six riders made it to finals, but Julia Marino did not compete after an accident in practice.
“I pretty much landed on my face,” Marino said.
Gasser earned her first Burton Open slopestyle crown, a feat that fits nicely on the resume.
“For me it was really challenging the first two days. I didn’t even hit the jumps until semifinals,” Gasser said, “and then the last three days the weather was so nice and we all got used to it.”
Women’s snowboarding has been progressing over the past couple years, gaining excitement and attention amongst the men.
“When I see a girl do something, it makes something more realistic,” Anderson said. “And I think after the Olympics everyone got inspired to charge. Anna’s been working on these tricks for a couple of seasons now. All of the girls are just wanting more. It’s fun to watch.”
Once the future of the sport and now settling into their veteran roles, Anderson and O’Brien are happy with where women’s snowboarding is, and where it’s going.
“The push has been coming for a long time,” O’Brien said. “Jamie and I have both been doing this for a really long time, and it’s been really cool to go through our careers together. To be in that veteran role and seeing this new generation of women coming up riding so well is so cool. Their ceiling is so much higher than what I have ever imagined for myself. These girls want to be up there with the guys, and that’s so inspiring. I’m just super proud to be a part of women’s snowboarding right now and really excited for where the future is going.”
Gasser said despite being close in age with Anderson and O’Brien, she started snowboarding later in life.
“I have to say I got inspired by you girls,” Gasser told Anderson and O’Brien. “I’m not that much younger but I started pretty late, and I learned from you guys and you were the ones to motivate me when I was young and getting into it, so thanks for that.”
For the first time in four years, Anderson is seeing silver instead of gold at the Burton Open in Vail, and she seems happy sitting right where she is with Gasser in the top spot.
“I’m super thankful, and I’m so proud of these girls,” Anderson said.
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Bluebird skies, spring-like temperatures and a few inches of snow from Monday night’s storm helped Snowmass skiers and snowboarders cruise into the season Wednesday for opening day.