Wanaka’s Mitchell Brown cracks the Burton halfpipe semis

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Wanaka-based snowboarder Mitchell Brown has qualified for prestigious semi-finals Burton New Zealand Open.

Brown, from Dunedin originally, was among six riders who today (Thursday) secured a spot in Saturday’s halfpipe semis. 

The day started with 53 men and 28 women in pre-qualifiers tackling the seven-metre Olympic-size halfpipe at Cardrona Alpine Resort. 

Japanese 14-year-old Taku Hiraoka qualified first with a winning run that involved a method, a crippler, a backside 540 mute, a frontside inverted 720 and a huge Haakon flip. Fellow Japanese rider Keito Kumazaki was second and American Ben Farrow was third. They were followed by American’s Brennen Swanson and Spencer Shaw – and finally Brown. 

Japanese women also dominated the female qualifiers with Hikaru Oe, 15, taking out the first spot with a Lien air, backside 540, frontside 540, a backside air and something called a stalefish.

Fellow Japanese Haruna Matsumoto, Ryoko Iijima and Akiko Miwa also qualified along with Germany’s Silvia Mittermueller. 

Tomorrow (Friday) sees the women’s slopestyle semis from 9.40-10.40am, the men’s slopestyle semis from 11.20-1pm and the slopestyle finals from 1.50-3.20pm.