26/03/2013 | by Tom Copsey
Now that the US Open is all wrapped up, several of the World Snowboard Tour overall rankings have been decided and we can all relax and retreat from the edge of our seats. Rookie Ayumu Hirano takes the men’s pipe crown from under everyone else’s noses and, predictably, Kelly Clark takes top honours in the ladies’ halfpipe.
In just 21 short months, snowboarding’s favourite 4 foot Japanese 14 year old has rocketed 1247 places up the World Snowboard Tour rankings, and now trumps Lago and Vito for the year. With wins in Wanaka and Laax, backed up by second places in Vail and Aspen, Hirano has had a consistently impressive record recently, and nobody can deny he’s got the amplitude to tussle Shaun White for the limelight some time soon. Just look at him hanging out up there!
Clark takes her 61st win in the halfpipe, and 3rd World Snowboard Tour title, performing when it counted most to defend her spot at the top. Hannah Teter, Elena Hight and Arielle Gold have all pushed the girls’ level to new heights but Clark remains the most solid and her points reflect that.
Sarka Pancochova has been hard at it all year in both the pipe and slopestyle events, and a 4th place last week adds neatly to the points from her second place at the X Games to make her both ladies’ slopestyle champion and ladies’ overall champion. The girl’s got style, too
Mark McMorris has barely ever been off the podium recently, out-spinning his boy Horgmo on several occasions, and now takes home the Slopestyle title. Throwing out lazy triples whenever a GoPro is pointed his way – and not afraid to show what he’s got – even in a snowstorm, McMorris gets deserved recognition for a great year.
And that just leaves the men’s overall title to be decided at the last halfpipe event next week in Oslo at the Arctic Challenge. All eyes will be on second place local hero Ståle Sandbech – currently 135 points behind Peetu Piiroinen – who will be hoping to beat the Finn and retain the title. After Sebastian Toutant pipped him to the post for the Big Air title, Sandbech will be eager to prove himself but, as we all know, Peetu is a formidable competitor when his back’s to the wall. Stay tuned for our coverage of The Arctic Challenge to see how it all pans out.