The action at the 2011 Burton New Zealand Open presented by MINI (BNZO) continued on day two in the 22-foot Olympic sized halfpipe. Another perfect day on the mountain made for great conditions in the pipe as 56 men and 26 women battled it out for advancement to the semi-finals. Those that made the cut today will compete against halfpipe greats and invited riders, Danny Davis (USA), Queralt Castellet (ESP), Hannah Teter (USA), Iouri Podladtchikov (SUI) and Kelly Clark (USA) in the semi-finals on Friday and Saturday.
Starting the day off, Men’s pre-qualifiers were split into two exciting heats where the top 25 men advanced to the qualifiers later in the day. Kazuumi Fujita (JPN) and Brett Esser (USA) stayed strong throughout pre-qualifiers and qualifiers as they were both top five in their first heats and continued on to the top two seats in the qualifiers. Esser dominated the day coming out in first place overall with a strong second run that scored 81.58 points. Starting with a Frontside 1080 Tail Grab, he then moved into a Cab 720 Lien, Frontside 900 Tail Grab and Backside 900. Fujita was not far behind in second place with a second run that scored him 80.98 points. He earned the high score with a Crippler, Backside 540, Frontside 720, Cab 720 and Frontside 900. In third place was another strong Japanese rider, Ikkou Anai, who scored 80.70 points in his last run of the day. Others that made the cut today were Tore Holvik (NOR), Sato Shuhei (JPN) and Dylan Bidez (USA).
The women’s halfpipe qualifiers kept the action in the air as 26 women competed for 5 spots that will advance to Friday’s semi-finals. Japanese riders killed it in the pipe today with Haruna Matsumoto winning first and Hikaru Oe closing out the top three. Matsumoto’s second run earned her first place with a scoring run of 83.65 and included a Frontside Air, Method Air, Frontside 540, Backside 540 and Frontside 720. In second place was New Zealand’s own Rebecca Sinclair who scored 82.53 points in her second run with a Frontside 720 Melon Grab, Cab 360, Frontside 540, Backside 540, Stalefish and Method Air. Rounding out the top 5 today was Xuetong Cai (CHN) and Holly Crawford (AUS).
Based on feedback from global coaches and team managers earlier in the week, the SLS system was used in pipe qualifiers for the first time ever with a modified system where two judges (rather than one, used previously) looked at each hit in the pipe.