02/02/2010 | by Tom Copsey
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The über Finn takes his second 6 Star TTR win in two days while the Pole tops the women’s podium.
Under perfect blue skies the 2010 Burton European Open came to a close today with the hotly contested halfpipe finals. The usually-immaculate u-jump on the Crap Sogn Gion had come in for a bit of criticism from the riders after the semi finals, with the sluff and walls proving hard to get to grips with, however the shaping crew had put in a sterling shift for the finals and a thumbs up from Peetu Piiroinen had us amped for the final showdown.
There was bad news in training, though. Firstly young Norwegian Tore Holvik, who’d had us pumped in the semis, hoofed a double cork a good 4-5 metres into the stratosphere but came out too far and landed flat breaking his arm. Then Markus Keller, Swiss stylemaster and contender for Onboard’s favourite rider ever award, caught an edge, spanked his head and knocked himself out. Hopefully both guys are Ok and heal up soon.
The women got things started with a mix of TTR frontrunners like Sarka Pancochova and Lisa Wiik facing off with some fresh faces from Poland, Slovenia and Japan. As with the men, the absence of the American contingent was felt, but the girls stepped it up on their own terms and there were some progressive runs thrown down with 7s as commonplace as they were rare a mere few years ago. Despite some strong riding from Cilke Sadar, the impressive Sarka Pancochova and an under-scored Lisa Wiik, Polish rider Paulina Ligocka took her first ever TTR win with a run that consisted of a front 9, backside air, frontside air, backside tail, front 7 and cab 3. Second went to the local lady Ursina Haller with third being bagged by the 36-year-old Japanese Akika Miwa. Who says snowboarders are over the hill at 25?
The start of the men’s final was a bit of a weird one to be honest. Though we’d been anticipating off the hook whirlybirding the majority of the riders fell or sketched their first runs – it seemed that the second hit was a little over vert causing people to come way out and land flat. With some adjustments to their runs they managed to deal with it and saw some humdingers from the likes of Iouri Podladtchikov (first hit double cork and mixing up with 9s and 10s), Janne Korpi (back to back 9s, back to back 10s and a always-welcome Heave-Ho). Mad props must also go to Gian Simmen and Xaver Hoffman who showed that the old dogs have still got it with some of the highest airs of the day and they even kept up with the kids on a couple of spins.
After the first two runs it looked like the strongest riding was being put down by man-child Ståle Sendbech, Ilkka-Eemeli Laari (who’d fought through the qualifiers with some of the most progressive runs including front 12s and double corks stomped like clockwork) and Ipod, with Ilkka sat comfortably in first with one run to go. But Peetu Piiroinen was just about to blow our minds. As he’d just sneaked into the finals, qualifying in 16th, he had to drop first and had been coming a cropper on his huge second hit double cork 12s and new he needed to get it down if he was to be in with a chance. If Peetu was feeling the pressure he took his last shot it wasn’t showing. Rather than change his approach to deal with the second hit he persevered and put it down when is mattered – front 7, monster double cork 10, front 9, backside air and and alley-oop 5 tailgrab. The military would call it a shock and awe strike, but for snowboarders, buck wild should do it.
So, two 6 star TTR wins in two days sees Peetu leave Laax as stoked as we’ve ever seen the kid, while Paulina can start to build on her first podium result and take it on into the rest of the winter. Though the yanks pulled a sickie, the BEO was another example of next level shredding and when we come to that little contest near Vancouver in a month, minds will be reeling as to where pipe riding has hoisted itself to.