Snowbird, UT –The final and super final rounds of The North Face Masters of Snowboarding’s first stop of the season wrapped up Saturday at Utah’s Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort. The field of nearly 50 competitors who advanced from Friday’s first round made the early morning hike up to Snowbird’s North Baldy venue for the finals. The field was then cut to six women and 14 men for the ultimate super finals showdown. In the end Snowbird local Shannan Yates, who dominated all week long took the overall women’s title, while Matt Annetts of Morrisville, Vermont, eclipsed some of the sport’s best riders to win the men’s title.n
Yates and Annetts each walked away with a $3,500 chunk of the total $14,000 tour stop prize purse.
Saturday’s run through Snowbird’s North Baldy contest venue earned Matt Annetts of Morrisville, Vermont victory in the first stop of The North Face Masters of Snowboarding for 2009.
With Friday’s points not carrying over, athletes came into the finals with a clean slate, and it was anyone’s event to win or lose. The better of two runs decided the winners. First out of the gate Saturday morning was Yates. Choosing a technical line speckled with rock exposure, Yates impressed the judges with several cliff drops and retained her principal standing, winning the run. Her super finals run was merely for show as she had already cinched the title with points earned.
Michelle Locke of Lake Louise, Alberta, held on to the second spot going into the super finals and maintained her position, finishing second overall. Defending TNF Masters Snowbird champion Susan Mol of Crested Butte, Colorado, rounded out the women’s podium.
“I knew the venue was pretty chewed so I thought I would just stick to a really strong, fast fluid line and luckily I stuck all my airs,” said Yates. “You always hope the first run is good enough but you can’t ride on that. I’m excited to be the champ and I’m definitely looking ahead to the next two stops on the tour.”
The strong men’s division impressed the crowd Saturday and standouts included Ryland Bell’s backside 720, Clif Dimon’s controlled, hesitation-free billygoating through “the Amphitheatre” and Dave Short’s 50-foot air off the “Broom Closet”. Crashing during the first run, round one winner and snowboarding legend Travis Rice narrowly made the cut to the super finals. In his final run, Rice ignited the crowd with a switch rodeo and a huge 40-foot 360 grab. A fall in the middle of the venue, however, knocked him out of contention, and he ended up 14th overall.
In perhaps the most impressive performance of the day, Annetts moved from 10th to win the event in a show-stopping super final run, which included a controlled triple drop in the Amphitheatre. Annetts’ super finals score launched him ahead of Ralph Backstrom of Squaw Valley, California, who cinched second position. TNF Masters Alyeska, Alaska, champion Rob Kingwill finished third overall and Dave Short of Seymour, British Columbia, finished in fourth ahead of defending champion Clif Dimon of Snowbird.
“I didn’t ride the Amphitheatre well the first run so I wanted to go back for redemption,” said Annetts. “I was looking for the snow, and because I had been in there the time before I knew what was in store for me. I really liked the venue here at Snowbird. As far as the features, it just has so many to offer. Luckily today was the best-run format. The field this year was so strong. I’m very happy to be on top tonight.”
TNF Masters heads next to Crested Butte, Colorado, February 12-15, 2009. The hometown to defending TNF Masters series champion Clif Dimon, it’s clear he obviously isn’t comfortable standing beside the podium. Look for Dimon to pull out all the stops in his attempt to repeat as series champion.
“It was a long week, my legs were tired today and I didn’t feel good on the second run,” said Dimon. “Crested Butte is my hometown. I know the mountain well so hopefully I’ll do a little better there. Home field advantage is a plus.”