It’snowheaven – High Fives in New Zealand – By Jess Softley

Returning for the second annual event, the Burton High Fives competition dominated Kiwi territory on and off the slope, as 60 insanely talented snowboarders took on more than just a sweet powder run.

However, rallying in a MINI 4×4 and trying your hand at herding sheep won’t get you 1st place in slopestyle or halfpipe.

Despite having a blast in the off-slope team challenges, these specially invited ‘60’ knew how to raise the bar when it came to the showing their tricks on the piste.

Up first were the women, who more than nailed the halfpipe, pushing each other’s limits from the very first run. Unfortunately, the conditions were a little overcast, but this did not detract from the talent on show, especially from 13 year old USA rider, Chloe Kim, who proved age is just a number, scoring 85.80 points from her very first run.

It was a close fought final, and with the bar already set by Chloe Kim, some serious tricks were pulled out the bag in order to secure 1st place. However, it was fellow USA rider Kelly Clark who nailed her second run, earning 89.60 points with a frontside air with huge amplitude, followed by a backside 540, frontside 1080, Cab 720, and a frontside inverted 720 to collect 1st place and the $10,000 prize money.

After her impressive first run, Chloe Kim was able to secure 2nd place, taking home $5,000, followed by Gretchen Bleiler in 3rd, who left with $2,500.

With such incredible talent showcased, the men’s halfpipe was sure to bring as much competition, as Greg Bretz took an early lead with his first run, scoring 89.40.

However, Japanese rider Taku Hiraoka blew the other riders out of the water after nailing a near perfect second run with a backside 540, frontside 1260, backside 900, 1080 double cork and Cab 1080, taking first place with a whopping 94.80.

Slopestyle competitors were met by high winds during the day of the final, challenging even the most comfortable of riders. However, many quickly found their feet after their first run, with USA’s Jamie Anderson edging ahead of the others with her winning run, consisting off a backside taillslide, 50/50 on the closeout rail, 50/50 on the rainbow, backside 180 mute, Cab 540 melon, and backside 540 indy.

Enni Rukajärvi from Finland slid into 2nd place with 79.20 points after just missing out on 1st as Jamie pulled out a storming run to beat her to the 1st place podium position. Norway’s Silje Norendal scored 69.20 to follow in behind Enni, with 3rd.

Stale Sandbech, a rider whose reputation is rapidly preceding him, was back to beat last year’s placement with some inspiring tricks, scoring 94.60 with his second run, coming out on top to take 1st place.

With such amazing riders, USA dominated this year’s Burton High Fives, as Kyle Mack secured 2nd place with his final run, scoring him 92.40. Following Kyle was Yuki Kadono in 3rd with 91.20.

The way these events are going, by the time we reach Sochi the level of technical ability will be beyond what any of us could have expected.

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