Jacob Wester and Keri Herman win North American Open Slopestyle
The inaugural North American Open Slopestyle event has come to a very successful finish, here in Breckenridge. Mother Nature decided to play a cruel trick on us in the form of snow, colder temps and wind, but alas, it was no match for the event staff and it didn’t hinder the athletes too much.
The day started off with a Last Chance Qualifier, in between the finalists practice runs, which moved up Joss Christensen and Everly Gohman into the finals. With the women starting things off in the finals, the girls threw down. Meg Olenick with the only switch hits on the girls side, Keri Herman dropping right and leftside spins and a cork 540, Kristi with her 720s, Athena and Angeli were taking their 540s on the last jump deep. In the end, it was the Summit County local Keri Herman who takes home the top honors.
On the men’s side, the field of 32 finalists battled through wind and snow, throwing their absolute best to impress the judges, the crowd, and their peers. During the 2nd run, the event put the course on weather hold, ran a course slip, repainted the landings and re-ran the 2nd run, so that no one would get shortchanged on their finals experience.
The judges definitely had their work cut out for them, with almost every competitor throwing right and leftside 7s, 9s, 10s, and up. Double flips were a pretty popular trick on the 3rd jump, thrown by Jon, Tom Wallisch, Bobby Brown and Taylor Felton, to name a few. Switch mistys, rodeos, kangaroos, and double grabs of all sorts of varieties were thrown down by the field.
Tanner Rainville’s unique style with him into the bronze medal. Jon Olsson, with his signature style and flawless consistency, took his Kangaroo Flip, into the silver medal spot. But it was the Swede, Jacob Wester, whose double cork 1260 elevated his run to the top of the podium. Newcomer Bobby Brown, who switched up his run everytime, snatched the 4th place spot, while Michael Olenick’s rail skills and cork 1260 moved him into 5th.
With the less than perfect weather in the back of everyone’s minds, the whole lot of athletes was invited to a restaurant in downtown Breckenridge, for a little food, some drinks and a lot of fun, courtesy of Empire gloves. The dinner is just another way of bringing all the athletes together, under one setting, to really create a positive environment at the North American Open. At the dinner/awards ceremony, Target kicked down a nice surprise and gave out some prizes to some standout athletes. Bobby Brown and Meg Olenick both scored a $100 gift certificate to Target, while Tom Wallisch took home a new canon powershot digi-cam. Beau Wells and a young man by the name of Colby took home some Playstation 3s, and the youngest competitor Mitch Gilman took home an iPod. Beau Wells, also took home the Navy Best Amateur 2008 award, so his parents can be proud of that. The big winner, Jacob Wester, in addition to the gold medal, took home an Olevia flatscreen TV, compliments of Target.
Check back Sunday night as the North American Open focuses it’s attention on the superpipe competition, complete with more group lunches, jam sessions and good vibes from the Breckenridge halfpipe.
Men’s Top 10
1) Jacob Wester
2) Jon Olsson
3) Tanner Rainville
4) Bobby Brown
5) Michael Olenick
6) Simon Dumont
7) Luke Nutting
8) Peter Olenick
9) Josh Bibby
10) Anders Backe
1) Keri Herman
2) Kristi Leskinen
3) Athena Brownsen
About the author:
Shay Williams is the Managing Editor of Freeskier Magazine. He loves cheeseburgers, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Sweden. He's likely on a plane right now—first class only.