Ayumu Hirano & Kelly Clark win halfpipe finals at the 2012 Burton High Fives

Comments by Jonathan Glass/

Kelly Clark soaring to first at the Burton High Fives

WANAKA, New Zealand (August 18, 2012) The first annual Burton ‘High Fives’ snowboarding competition, presented by MINI, concluded today at Snow Park NZ in Wanaka, New Zealand with the climactic halfpipe finals. Burton riders, Kelly Clark (USA) and Ayumu Hirano (JPN), took home US $10,000 each for their impressive winning performances in the pipe.

It was another beautiful ‘bluebird’ day at Snow Park NZ for the halfpipe finals. Women were up first in the pipe for the exciting one-hour jam session. Kelly Clark (USA) and second place rider Queralt Castellet (ESP) took it to a whole new level in women’s pipe as they duked it out for the top spot run. In the end it was Kelly’s incredible second run that took the win with 94.60, starting with a frontside 9, backside 5, front 7, cab 7 and stalefish. Queralt’s third run was a stunning series of spins, opening with a front 5, back 9, front 9, back 5, and a frontside 10 to finish for 92.40 points. Rounding out the podium with a score of 75.40 was USA’s Kaitlyn Farrington whose solid run consisted of a backside 5, stale, crail, corked front 7, cab 7, and backside alley-oop 5.

“The girls rode really great today and Queralt and I were run for run throughout,“ said Kelly. “But in the end I was really happy with my riding and it was so much fun to be putting down 9’s and 10’s in the summertime.”

The men’s halfpipe finals were dominated by the Japanese riders whose sky high boosts lead to the top two podium spots. Leading the charge was none other than 13-year old Ayumu Hirano (JPN), who laid down the gauntlet with his first run. In the end he was theonly rider to top his own score with a 92.40 run that consisted of a frontside air, front 10, cab 10, front double, and crazy alley-oop rodeo 5.  Ayumu’s talent showed through in spades earlier this year at the Burton US Open in March where his winning score in the Junior Jam broke all records. Burtongirls.com highlighted Ayumu’s recent success in an interview at http://burtongirls.com/snowboarding/little-big-time/. Last year’s Burton NZO winner, Ryo Aono (JPN), claimed second place today with 89.60, starting his run with a front 10 lein, cab 10 melon, front 9 lein, and back 9 lein. At one point it looked like it might be a clean sweep for the Japanese riders, but Greg Bretz (USA) put down a solid run for 88.60 points, nudgingKohei Kudo (JPN) off the podium for third place. Greg’s run started with a front 10 tail, cab 10 nose, front 9 lein, back 9 tail, and a front 10 double cork.

“I am so stoked to have placed first today in my third run of the jam at the Burton High Fives,” said Hirano. “I am now ready to go even bigger in my next competition.”

The amazing week of competition started with a non-traditional approach for a snowboarding event as riders showed off some of their unknown talents in unique Kiwi-influenced, off-snow team challenges at Oxbow Adventures, taking place at Ferguson Lodge, and the MINI Countryman Winter Driving Challenge. Riders were grouped into 12 Teams of five to compete in fun and rugged outdoor activities like skeet shooting, ATV racing and knife throwing, to name a few. Heading into the individual snowboarding events, team ‘Low Fives’, consisting of Roger Kleivdal, Kaitlyn Farrington, Scotty Lago, Kyle Mack, and team captain Kelly Clark, had taken a commanding lead in the team challenges. The ‘Bench Warmers’ were in second and went on to achieve solid results on snow, but it wasn’t quite enough to beat the Low Fives team whose strong snowboarding scores rose them to the top. The Low Fives gang took home the trophy and US $10,000 to split between them.

“The Burton High Fives’ creative approach to a snowboarding event was a lot of fun to be a part of,” said Kelly. “My strategy in team selection was to pick great riders with hidden talents like Scotty Lago with shooting and Kaitlyn Farrington with driving. That then set us up to do what we do best – snowboarding.”

Prize money today totalled US $35,000 for the Halfpipe, with an additional US $10,000 going to the winning Low Fives team. The 2012 Burton High Fives has dished out a total prize purse of US $80,000 – the largest to date in New Zealand snow sports history.

The halfpipe awards ceremony was as unique as the Burton High Fives itself, complete with boardgiveaways and live sheep. It was followed by the High Fives Sunset Sessions on the sun-drenched deck at the Woolshed at Snow Park NZ, featuring Dudstown Soundsystem. The entertainment will continue later this evening with the High Fives Closing Party at Opium Bar in Wanaka, alsofeaturing Dudstown Soundsystem.

For fans that missed it, the live webcast of the Burton High Fives can be viewed on demand at opensnowboarding.com. The 2012 Burton High Fives is the first event in the Burton Global Event Series and is a 5star event on the World Snowboard Tour. A special thanks to High Five partners MINI, Nokia, Red Bull, Snow Park NZ, Jagermeister, Juice TV, Skinny Mobile, The Edge, Stoke Lager, and Mighty Campervans.