The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Outdoors

January 31, 2013

Seven Springs set for U.S. Open Snowboarding Qualifiers

JOHNSTOWN — Shaun White competed in a U.S. Open Snowboarding Qualifier. So did Craig Kelly, Kelly Clark and Terje Haaksonen.

Those names are giants of in the world of snowboarding and it’s possible the next big name will be at Seven Springs Mountain Resort this weekend as the long-running event takes place in conjunction with a U.S. Revolutions Tour stop. The event is scheduled to run through Thursday.

Practice for competitors begins at 10 a.m. today with slopestyle competition set for Saturday and halfpipe sessions to start on Sunday.

“It’s a really significant event,” said Ian Warda, Events Manager for Burton Snowboards. “The U.S. Open is our marquee event and it carries global relevance. There will be a solid international field.”

The U.S. Open Qualifiers represents a significant change in Burton’s 30-year history of pioneering elite snowboard competitions. Previously, the qualifiers were held in Vermont.

This marks the first time the event has been held outside that state.

“Seven Springs is a great partner of Burton and it’s a real natural fit for us,” Warda said. “This being the first year of this event outside Vermont, we want people to come check it out. It’s great to bring it to a place like Seven Springs. It’s a good experience for everyone.”

Slopestyle is a wildly popular event for competitors and spectators. The discipline requires competitors to perform difficult tricks while coming off jumps.

A total of 100 slopestyle competitors – 70 men, 30 women – begin at 9:15 a.m. Saturday with the first session. The second session begins at 1 p.m.

The halfpipe competition, which features the same numbers as the slopestyle, starts Sunday at 9:15 a.m. with the second session at 1 p.m. The Revolution Tour, which features skiing, will run from Tuesday to Thursday.

The top placing riders advance to the Burton U.S. Open in Vail, Colo. from Feb. 25-March 2.

“Some of these riders could go on to the Olympic Trials,” said Anna Weltz, communications manager at Seven Springs. “We expect it to be very competitive. It’s going to be a tremendous event.”

It is free to attend, and Weltz expects more than 5,000, but for those unable to attend the event in person, a live webcast from the action Saturday and Sunday is available at burton.com/USOQuals.

“It’s great to see the cold temperature come back. It feels a lot more like winter with the rain and warmer temperatures gone,” Warda said. “There is snow up here on the mountain and an amazing course for our competitors. We’re looking forward to a great couple days of competition.”

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