The world's top snowboarders hit the Sunbowl at [R430R, Stratton Mountain Resort] in Vermont for the 28th annual Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships, fourth and final stop on the Burton Global Open series.

The top three men and women overall winners will be chosen by week's end, and more than $500,000 in prize money shared out.

The U.S. Open kicked off Monday, March 15 and runs through Sunday March 21.

Torrential rains in southern New England and a wintry mix across northern parts of the region moved out Monday night, giving way to bright blue skies and warm sun Tuesday, with the forecast calling for repeats right through the weekend.

The U.S. Open is the longest running snowboard event on the planet.

It is an "open" event, which means anyone was eligible to sign up to compete for a place in the finals.

(Registration closed Feb. 1, but make a note for next year.)

This year the list of competitors includes American Olympic medalists Shaun White and Scotty Lago, Kelly Clark, Hannah Teter, and Gretchen Bleiler, Stratton's own Louie Vito, and Australian snowboarding champ Torah Bright, along with scores of others.

Stratton's Myra Foster expects these athletes, combined with fabulous weather, will draw huge crowds.

"Conditions are absolutely perfect for viewing. Temperatures are going to be in the 40s, approaching the 50s, nothing but sunny skies heading into the weekend, cool nights warming up during the course of the day," Foster said.

How many people show up to watch the U.S. Open?

"The event is free, so it's hard to track numbers. We figure crowds are usually in the 10,000-to-12,000 range. Our estimates are a combination of looking at skiers and riders on the mountain, knowing that most will spend some time watching, and car counts," she said.

Stratton encourages people to carpool for the event because parking spots are tight.

"We have a great shuttle system here," Foster said.

"This year it's anybody's guess since Scotty Lago was on TV and Shaun White was in People Magazine, and this is the first big U.S. competition since the Olympics; 2006 was a big year, 2010 will be bigger," she said.

U.S. Open Information and Event Schedule.