Sunday was a huge payday for some riders at the Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships at Stratton. Chas Guldemond and Jamie Anderson clinched the men's and women's Burton Global Open Series titles, worth $100,000 each, and Peetu Piirionen won the Ticket To Ride World Tour championship title, worth $50,000. The next four TTR riders split $60,000.
Guldemond's good fortune did not stop with the BGOS title however, as he earned $20,000 for winning Sunday's Slopestyle Final, and $25,000 for placing second in the TTR. He had a strong contingent of supporters over from his hometown in Laconia, N.H.
Anderson won going away, although she did not compete in the Halfpipe Final Saturday or the Slopestyle Final Sunday because she fell in slopestyle practice Saturday, injured her spleen and was hospitalized.
The Stratton event capped the Burton Global Open Series, which started in New Zealand, and moved to Australia, Europe, Canada, the Asian Open in Japan, and finished this past week in Vermont. Athletes compiled points at each stop, with the highest point total winning the BGOS title, and the money.
Guldemond placed first in Sunday's men's Slopestyle Finals; Kjersti Oestgaard Buaas of Norway won the women's Slopestyle Finals.
Torah Bright of Australia won the women's Halfpipe Finals on Saturday, nipping Kelly Clark of Vermont, who finished second. Both have now won the event three times.
American Danny Kass won the men's Halfpipe finals, and Peetu Piiroinen of Finland placed second.
Mia Troy of Burton summed up the week: "It was great, really amazing. The weather cooperated, the crowds were stoked, the riders definitely stepped it up and threw down on their runs. There were great tricks and runs put together by the riders. Really good vibes and a good week."
If money weren't enough to inspire the competitors, Volvos were on the line for overall male and female rider at the Stratton event. Scotty Lago of New Hampshire won as men's overall rider, and Buaas won as the women's.
People might think it's all about the money, but it isn't. Snowboarders want to ride in the U.S. Open because it's the premier snowboarding event in the world. Success here can make a career, but simply being in the Open is sufficient reward for many.
Mikaela Casy, one of the competitors, is 18. "I started snowboarding when i was 10 years old. I come from a big skiing family and after my older sister and younger brother started snowboarding I knew I had to get into it. My little brother TJ is sort of my inspiration; he competes nationally as well.
"I loved snowboarding so much and joined a competitive snowboard team back at home in Minnesota. First I started with USASA nationals, which lead to rev tours, which lead to Grand Prixs, World Cups, and of course the US Open," Casey said.
"There are many reasons I snowboard. I am super competitive so I love competing. Also, I have so many friends from all over the U.S. and get to travel and stay with all of them for competitions. When I am snowboarding nothing else really matters, it gives me such a good feeling and is so much fun," she said.
In the end that's what most people in and around the sport say: Snowboarding is fun.
Liam Griffin, Burton Global Open Series director, said: "We had an amazing week overall. There was a little bit of crazy weather today (Sunday) but it wouldn't be an event on the East Coast if you didn't have some weather. A really strong snow squall came through just as the Slopestyle was under way. New snow is really tough, it's slow, and threw the riders off. It also threw off our filming. But we had a plan in place to clear by hand because you can't use machines in the middle of competition. At one point it was sunny and snowing at the same time, and made for some interesting shots.
"Saturday was the best day of the whole event. The riding level was very high, crowds were huge, we parked people in every available spot, all the lots were full and cars were parked along both sides of the road, all the way down to the Bondville Fairgrounds," he said.
"The energy level with the crowd was great. Everybody was enjoying the Halfpipe Final," he said.
Griffin said he spoke with a Stratton regular who recalled the first U.S. Open there in 1985, three years after the event was first held in Vermont.
"It's hard to imagine a snowboarding event like this 25 years ago, but this fellow said he'd like to be around 25 years from now," Griffin said.
"I've been doing this for 10 years, and I'll be back for another next year. I'll be back in 10 years. There will always be a U.S. Open," he said.