On Wednesday, at the 14th Burton European Open presented by MINI, both the men's Slopestyle Semi-finals and the women's Halfpipe Semi-finals were played out in near perfect weather conditions. Additionally, heat two of the men's Slopestyle qualifications was completed in the morning, having been delayed by bad weather yesterday.
Over at the Slopestyle a field of 40 riders were set to do battle. The 500m course consisted of a dogleg rail section, a line of three booters into a flat down rail, pole jam, tank and finishing up with the MINI Creative Use of Space feature. Each rider would have two runs to prove their worth, the best of which would be count as their final score. From the 40 qualified, only 12 would go through to Friday's final. The going would be tough as the lineup included a weighty clutch of heavy hitters including the likes of Aleksander Ostreng (NOR), Mark McMorris (CAN), Stale Sandbech (NOR) and Peetu Piiroinen (FIN).
As the first run got going it became obvious that the course was running a little slow, with riders winding down the big spins for safer but more stylish tricks. That said though, there were still a fair few doubles and plenty of 9s and 10s on offer. Torstein Horgmo, a favourite in these semis, put down a very convincing first run that included a switch back 5, front 10 double and back 10 double on the kickers. It was to earn him a solid lead over the riders that had dropped before. His efforts would only be matched by Mark McMorris, who slipped into first with three doubles on the kickers and a solid showing on the rail sections.
In run two the heat was on, yet still the riders were finding the speed on the course a challenge. Horgmo again pushed out the boat, leap-frogging McMorris into first, with a seemingly unbeatable score of 91.50. In the closing salvos of the session Sebastian Toutant, who had everything to play for after bailing on the stairs in the first round, fired off a kicker line of Cab double underflip, front 7 and back double 10 and slipped into third place. Sadly for Ulrik Badertscher, Sebastian's run would knock him off the contenders list for the finals.
Meanwhile, over at the pipe, the women were putting on a fine show for the Semifinals. Each of the 14 riders would get two runs each, the best of which would count as their final score and with only 6 places up for grabs the pressure was on. Chat at the start gate after the warmups was predicting a clean sweep by team America, especially with Kelly Clark going huge and Arielle Gold dialing back to back 5s and 7s. And when the final bell sounded local girl Ursina Haller was the only non-American in the top 6, a bonus for the local crowd, and Kelly Clark had clocked up a solid score of 95.33; having won the BEO five times in the past she is a favourite for Friday's finals.