Teen snowboarding freak carves up Burton Open men’s field


A 14-year-old snowboarding freak from Japan has come from nowhere to take second in the Burton New Zealand Open halfpipe. 

Taku Hiraoka dominated the pre-qualifiers and qualifiers before continuing his amazing run in the finals today (Saturday) at Cardrona. 

Taku scored an intimidating 89.35 with one run including a backside 540, a frontside inverted 720, a Cab 1080 and a huge frontside 900 tailgrab. 

He was only bested by Iouri Podladtchikov of Switzerland who pulled out a massive crippler, double McTwist, 1260 frontside 1080 tailgrab and a Cab 720 for 93.70. 

American Louie Vito was third with 88.04 points. 

America’s Kelly Clark won the women’s at the seven-metre halfpipe with a score of 88.70 for her second NZ Open crown in a row. 

“I was really happy with how I rode,” Clark says. 

“I walked away doing the tricks I set out to do and had a lot of fun.” 

Spain’s Queralt Castellet was the closest challenger with 82.45 points. Japanese veteran Soko Yamaoka was third with 76.84 points.