Burton U.S. Open, in the beginning
U.S. Open 1986, Tom Sims
Snowboarding legend and pioneer Tom Sims takes to the gates. In the beginning it was mandatory to compete in all disciplines at the U.S. Open, and Sims was one of the few who could hold his own on a rutted racecourse or lumpy halfpipe alike.
Craig Kelly, 1990
Before Craig Kelly became a backcountry guru, he was one of the fiercest competitors the snowboarding world had ever known. Kelly's all-around domination included the U.S. Open halfpipe podium, which he stood on top of for three years in a row.
"The Cage" is a U.S. Open legend. East Infection editors Mark Sullivan and Pat Bridges literally took over the pipe sidelines, staking off a dedicated party area with chicken wire. They stocked it with adult beverages and dressed up like a tiger and the Cookie Monster to get the vibe going.
Jeff Brushie, 1992
Jeff Brushie had the best tweak in the East. In the sport's beginnings, having this many talented riders together was a shooter's dream. Trevor Graves capitalized on the talent pool with this classic night image of Brushie tweaking like nobody's business.
No Dragons Needed
No pipe dragons here. The U.S. Open halfpipe has seen many incarnations, from being a hand-dug ditch to being shaped in a dirt trench dug in the offseason. The biggest mechanical breakthrough came from the deft wrist of Lyle Blazedale, who tooled up the shape of the pipe with a backhoe.
Terje's Chicken Wing
Kazuhiro Kokubo may have put his mark on the halfpipe world with stratospheric, laid-out McTwists, but Terje Haakonsen was tweaking his out years before -- and cleaning up the U.S. Open competition multiple times, to boot. Classic trick, iconic Terje style.
East coast native Todd Richards was one of the first to dethrone Terje from the top U.S. Open spot. The original "TR" remained a top competitor for quite a while with technical and stylish moves like this one.
No Stratton U.S. Open event was complete without a product toss -- in this case from several stories up.
Mike Michalchuk, 1998
The Open has always been the ultimate showcase of halfpipe talent, and of quick come-ups from mystery riders. In 1998 a relatively unknown Canadian by the name of Mike Michalchuk threw down a then-unthinkable trick, whipping around a double backflip that would go on to bear his name forever.
Ross Powers, 1999
No gallery would be complete without a shot of Vermont's hometown hero and U.S. Open champ Ross Powers airing it out.
Mike Basich, post flip
No U.S. Open would be complete without carnage and spectacle. Fresh off a botched double backflip attempt in the now-defunct big air event, Mike Basich nurses a blown-out lip.
Scene of the crime. Early U.S. Opens were like snowboarding's Super Bowl in almost every way: equal parts spectatorship, champion-level riding and champion-level partying.
The ever-popular Rail Jam event was introduced to the U.S. Open in 2003, and has been a crowd favorite since. Not every rail podium was won by a greasy-haired vaga-shredder, either -- the first one was won by none other than Travis Rice.
Danny Kass, 2005
Dirty Jersey coming to life ... they came from the Garden State and made their mark on Vermont. Lead "Grenerd" Danny Kass came in hot for a 2005 victory -- just one of his historic five wins. Kelly Clark is the only other U.S. Open athlete with that much gold ... so far.
Abe Teter, Poacher
Crowd participation applies to riders, too. Known for spontaneous acts of pipe poaching, local Vermonter Abe Teter punted some of the biggest airs of the contest in 2005 -- without a legit competitor bib.