Words & photos by John Vandervalk (http://www.majestyphoto.com)
The Aspen Open concluded yesterday with the men's and women's slopestyle portion of the event. The snow that had been forecasted to threaten the proceedings fortunately stayed to the north of Aspen until the event was over, and a stacked field of competitors took full advantage and gave it their all on the leftover slopestyle course from X Games a few weeks back. Here's what went down...
In semi-finals Russ Henshaw threw quite possibly one of the sickest runs ever seen in slope especially considering how windy it was getting as the afternoon progressed. Front flip off the ice box, 450 off the cannon, to unnatty switch 10, to switch misty 12 of the filled in small channel gap, to a sick double cork 12. All the riders in attendance thought he would qualify in the top spot or at least close, but to the confusion of all he was scored almost the same as another rider who went down both times.
Bobby Brown killed it as always spinning both ways all day, with a rodeo 6 (complemented by a super tweaked japan) off the cannon, rodeo 5 off the ice box a la TJ at X Games, to huge switch 10's down below.
Tom Wallisch skied like a man possessed, throwing impeccably corked spins along with a hardcore double off the money booter at the bottom and inverting off the cannon as well, which landed him in first place going into the finals. The eyebrow raising to the judging continued when Phil Casabon threw an extremely similar run and failed to make finals, which left everyone scratching their heads.
Once finals got under way, it was time for the Henrik Harlaut show, as the young Swede put down the following run that would eventually land him on top of the podium: 270 on, 630 off the top rail section, 180 on to the butter box and switch 5 out, 810 mute out of the cannon, switch cork 9, right 5, and capped off his run with a switch 1440 that he took damn near to the bottom of the landing due to the high winds.
Alex Schlopy took home second with a 270 on, flat 3 off the butter, 810 mute off the cannon, switch 9 japan, left cork 9, and switch 12 mute off the money booter at the bottom. Definitely keep your eyes on this kid, he's on a mission.
In third was the always consistent Bobby Brown, who is continuing to make a name for himself by being a serious threat anywhere and everywhere on the competition circuit this winter. B-Brown threw down a 270 on, 270 off on the top rail, switch on rodeo 5 out of the butter box, to switch rodeo 5 nose off the cannon, to right misty 7, to left cork 9 nose, to switch double cork 10 mute.
T-Wall continued to throw down the same run that had him ranked near the top all day, but for some reason the judges didn't grade him the same as they had earlier, landing him in sixth place.
As the day went on the wind got more and more gnarly, blowing riders 30 feet past the sweet spots of the landing at times. Due to this hardship the women had difficulty with the changing wind speeds and as a result only three of them landed their first run clean in the final.
On the second run Michelle Parker, who was making her spins look super easy all day, threw down a solid run consisting of 5's and a 7 (with grabs) that helped her take home the top spot.
In second was Kristi Leskinen, who was looking real comfortable spinning and grabbing 3's, a 5 and a 7.
And rounding out the podium was Aspen local Whitney Wickes, who had the hometown crowd rooting for her all day as she threw down a series of 3's and a nice 5 off the bottom.
That's all from the 2009 Aspen Open from beautiful Aspen, Colorado. Congrats to all the winners from everyone here at NS, and good luck at the upcoming final stop of the Winter Dew Tour.
1) Henrik Harlaut - 86.00
2) Alex Schlopy - 85.16
3) Bobby Brown - 84.66 (tiebreaker: 82.16)
4) John Strenio - 84.66 (tiebreaker: 81.16)
5) McRae Williams - 82.00
6) Tom Wallisch - 80.66
7) Chris Laker - 77.83
8) Alexis Godbout - 76.66
9) Joe Schuster - 76.33
10) Vincent Gagnier - 61.00
1) Michelle Parker - 87.50
Kristi Leskinen - 82.66
3) Whitney Wickes - 73.83
4) Keri Herman - 64.50
5) Siena Palmacci - 63.66
6) Megan Olenick - 63.16
7) Kristi Johns - 61.83
8) Devin Logan - 58.83
9) Jennifer Hirsch - 43.16
10) Maddie Bowman - 21.50