After 27 years at Vermont’s Stratton Mountain Resort, Burton is moving the US Open, the longest running snowboard comp in the world, out west to Vail Mountain Resort in Colorado. The competition’s new venue will make its debut beginning with the 31st edition of the Open, to be held February 25-March 2, 2013.
In accordance with the US Open’s big move from its home mountain of Stratton, Vail and Burton have teamed up to give the event a new feel and vibe that, while staying true to the competitive aspect of the event, aims to make the US Open experiential not only for the riders competing, but for spectators as well.
Greg Dacyshyn, Chief Creative Officer at Burton, elaborated on the new direction Burton hopes to take the US Open: “We really feel like we want to take this event to the next level and really show everyone what snowboarding is all about,” Dacyshyn said at a Burton and Vail hosted tour of the new venue that took place over Wednesday, July 25 through Friday, July 27.
Indeed, touring both the Vail Village and getting up on the mountain itself on July 26-27 to check out what Vail and Burton have brewing for the competition’s Vail debut showed no shortage of plans to revamp the event. The competition course itself will, at least for the first few years at Vail, consist of a halfpipe and slopestyle course that will neighbor one another on Vail’s Golden Peak zone.
In addition to working with the US Forest Service, Burton and Vail will be working with Snow Park Technologies (SPT) on engineering a unique slopestyle course and halfpipe. In working to stay true to Burton’s vision of revamping the US Open, SPT will be introducing a few fresh elements to the competition course.
While SPT President Chris “Gunny” Gunnarson and the SPT crew have already begun planning the layout of both the slopestyle course and the halfpipe, Gunny explained how a project like this doesn’t come without its obstacles, regardless of how early the planning begins.
“Building any course for athletes like these is going to be a challenge. Our aim is to make a course that showcases these athletes’ talents.”
We were able to get up on the hill to get the word from President Gunny himself on what SPT has in store for the slopestyle course. Check out the video below to get the details from Gunny on SPT’s unique take on the slopestyle course to be constructed for the US Open’s Vail debut.
One of the athletes who will be hitting the course, Burton Team Rider Mark McMorris, toured the US Open’s new venue last Thursday and echoed Dacyshyn’s sentiment about the move to Vail allowing the competition to elevate to the next level.
“I was pumped when I heard the news about the US Open moving to Vail. Burton is all about moving forward and Vail has a lot of really good terrain. For such a big contest, Vail is the perfect mountain.”
McMorris was joined by fellow team rider Kelly Clark for a tour of the US Open’s new home and, like McMorris, was excited upon hearing news of the move.
“I’m more excited than ever to see what’s in store. I think the move will be well received within the rider community and I’m very optimistic about the event being held in Vail. It’s definitely going to take on a new identity,” Clark said.
In what Dacyshyn termed an effort to progress the US Open from a snowboarding contest into a snowboarding festival, in addition to the halfpipe and revamped slopestyle course, the plaza located in front of the Solaris building in the Vail Village will act as venue for spectators to indulge in post competition celebrations Friday and Saturday evening as the US Open comes to a close.
The area, large enough to accommodate up to 5,000 people, will host free concerts and live entertainment, in addition to a mini park for kids to practice their jumps and jibs on. And, for of-age attendees, Vail has acquired the necessary liquor licenses for attendees to be able to drink outside in the entertainment area.
The expansive entertainment area, in addition to the competition course istelf, are, as Dacyshyn explained, all about being accommodating to both the pros competing and snowboarding fans alike: “Vail is all about the experience and being experiential. Our goal is to have people saying, ‘I had the best time of my life.’ It’s all about taking it to the next level.”
“I just want to thank Stratton Mountain in Vermont where the US Open took place for so long,” said Jake. “Stratton not only hosted the Open for 27 years, but also played a pivotal role in making resort riding a reality. And as we look to the future progression of the US Open, I feel that Vail offers us the ideal venue to host the event. Vail is an incredible mountain and has been my snowboarding home-away-from-home for over 20 years. I have no doubt that the US Open at Vail will only grow in its legacy as the premier rider-driven event in the world.”