BURLINGTON, VT (August 13, 2009) – While the rest of Central Otago was under a heavy cloud cover, Cardrona Alpine Resort enjoyed bluebird skies on the third day of the seventh annual Burton New Zealand Open. Cardrona’s 22’ halfpipe was the hub of today’s action, as over 100 riders had to perform to secure their spot in the halfpipe semifinals.

r:ben stewart p: erickson

First on tap were men’s halfpipe prequalifications, with over 70 riders vying for 25 spots in qualifications. The men each got two runs, with the best score counting. An epic Viking battle between Norwegians Stale Sandbech and Roger Kleivdal ended with a tie for the top spots in prequals. Sandbech impressed the judges with tricks like back to back 900s, a huge front 540 tailgrab into a massive backside method while Kleivdal showed huge amplitude and smooth frontside and backside spins.

In qualifications Stale Sandbech finished strong with a run that started big frontside 540 indy followed by a backside air tailgrab, into back-to-back 7’s, followed by a frontside melon finishing with a backside 540. Hot on his heels were Tore Holvik, also of Norway, followed by Johann Baisamy of France, Roger Kleivdal finished fifth. The top 10 men will advance on to Saturday’s halfpipe semifinals where they will face some of the world’s best snowboarders like Shaun White, Danny Kass, Scotty Lago, Luke Mitrani, Danny Davis, Mason Aguirre and Kazuhiro Kokubo.

Following the men’s competition, 45 women were ready to drop, all battling for a mere five spots in Saturday’s semifinal. Claire Bidez (USA) finished a clear five points ahead of her next closest competitor, Ryoko Iijima (JPN), with a winning run that started off with a big backside air, followed by a frontside 720 melon, into a Cab 360 indy, followed by a frontside stalefish, into a backside 540 mute, finishing with a stylish frontside grab. Silvia Mittemueller (GER), Ursina Haller (SUI) and Naho Mizuki (JPN) rounded out the top five. They will face international women’s halfpipe legends like Kelly Clark (USA), Jiayu Liu (CHN), Jamie Anderson (USA), Lisa Wiik (NOR) and Cheryl Maas (NED).

r: ursina haller p: erickson

New Zealand’s Ben Stewart (Whaangamata) finished sixth in the halfpipe qualification and will join the only invited New Zealand rider James Hamilton in the semifinals. In the women’s competition Paula Mitchel finished in tenth, but did not make the cut to the next round. New Zealand women lining up in the halfpipe semifinals includes Juliane Bray and Kendall Brown.

The NZ Open action continues tomorrow with men’s and women’s slopestyle semifinal and finals, don’t miss your chance to see world renowned riders like Torstein Horgmo (NOR), Chas Guldemond (USA), Antti Autti (FIN), Takaharu Nakai (JPN), Mitchell Brown (NZL), Danny Davis (USA), Peetu Piiroinen (FIN), Tim Humphreys (USA) and Sebastien Toutant (CAN), Chanelle Sladics (USA), Cheryl Maas (NED), Jamie Anderson (USA), Lisa Wiik (NOR), Sarka Pancochova (CZE), Shelly Gotlieb (NZL), Silvia Mittermuller (GER), Sina Candrian (SUI) and Spencer O’Brien (CAN).

Burton would like to thank Cardrona Alpine Resort, Go211.com, Speight’s Summit Golden Lager, Juice TV, The Edge FM, Anon Optics, High Cascade Snowboard Camp, Nature Valley, goodbars.co.nz, Joe’s Garage, SolRX, McKenna, Smirnoff Ice Double Black and Swatch TTR World Snowboard Tour for their support of the New Zealand Open.

If you can’t make it to New Zealand, watch the semi-finals and finals live on Go211.com, where webcasts and highlights of the competitions will also be available for on-demand viewing once the event is over.

Halfpipe Qualifications Men
1 Stale Sandbech NOR Oslo Oakley
2 Tore Holvik NOR Geilo Sweet
3 Johann Baisamy FRA Neuvecelle Billabong
4 Dimi Jong NED Den Haag O’Neill
5 Kleivdal Roger NOR Geilo Sweet
6 Stewart Ben NZL Whaangamata O’Neill
7 Christian Haller SUI Zernez Burton
8 Steve Krijbolder NED Zoetermeer O’Neill
9 Shuhei Sato JPN Asahikawa Gray
10 Taylor Gold USA Steamboat Springs Burton

Halfpipe Qualifications Women
1 Clair Bidez USA Minturn Nikita
2 Ryoko Iijima JPN Saitamaken Moss
3 Silvia Mittermueller GER München Oakley
4 Ursina Haller SUI Zernez K2
5 Naho Mizuki JPN Inuyama Aichi Ride