Stratton to host first-ever Vermont Open

STRATTON - What began with some casual racing amongst former professional snowboarders five years ago has turned into the lone Open snowboarding event remaining on the east coast.

In two weeks, Stratton Mountain will hold the first-ever Vermont Open, which stemmed from the Washed Up Cup that has been held at the mountain over the last four years during the U.S. Open.

Following Burton's decision last year to move the U.S. Open to Vail, Colo., one of the founders and organizers of the event - Steve Hayes - said he was approached by some people at Stratton who were interested in keeping the Washed Up Cup at the mountain.

"I thought that was a great idea," said Hayes. "Stratton is the birthplace of competitive snowboarding certainly for the east coast arguably for the country and I felt that it was an event that should stay at Stratton because of the traditional roots in competitive snowboarding and the community event. So I saw a big void and a lot of unhappy people that Burton was pulling the U.S. Open and no longer was this traditional event going to be around."

Due to the U.S. Open, Hayes said he decided to create an event that was all encompassing and "truly open."

"It was created out of a desire to return to the roots of the sport and provide a truly open forum for snowboarders of all ages and all backgrounds to compete on a prominent stage with other snowboarders either from pros to amateurs and juniors," Communication Coordinator for Stratton Mountain Resort Meryl Robinson. "And with the U.S. Open moving we have an opportunity now to create this sort of homegrown very Vermont event."

When the Vermont Open is held from March 15-17, riders can enter into one of four categories - junior, amateur, pro and "washed up" - and compete in three events over the course of the event. The event will include a railjam, a halfpipe competition a banked slalom event representing the Washed Up Cup. The halfpipe competition will be a throwback to the beginning of the sport as the pipe will only have 12 foot walls instead of the 22 foot walls that have become the norm today, Hayes said.

With the event being held the weekend of St. Patrick's Day, Hayes said he was hopeful that it would draw more people to the event and he is hopeful that there will be somewhere between 200 to 250 competitors.

Any proceeds from the event will go to the Ross Powers Foundation and the Level Field Fund, which offers assistance to promising athletes with financial need, according to the foundation's web site.

Ross Power's charity poker tournament will be held on Friday and there will also a be live music throughout the course of the three day event, Hayes said.

Though it may only be the first year of the Vermont Open, Hayes already has a vision of what he would like it to become in the future.

"Ultimately I envision this event growing into a U.S. Open level type event that is maybe not necessarily part of the U.S. Open, but is it's own regional contest. I think each year I'd like to step up the level of competition [and have] better and better riders," Hayes said. "I envision attracting all the top level pro riders from Vermont. Riders like Hannah Teter, Ross Powers, Kelly Clark and some of the other well known Vermont riders that are at the Olympic level to come back and support a community type of event as well as opening this event to the junior rider."

Hayes said that he has invited some of the top level pros, but as of press time he had not received a firm committment from any of them.

Follow on Twitter @BrandonCanevari.


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