LUDLOW, Vt. – Okemo Mountain School and the Okemo Competition Center were well represented in the 2020 Burton U.S. Open, Feb. 24 to 29. Two young riders, Tommy Okesson and Sumner Orr, and one senior athlete, Joey Okesson, traveled to Vail, Colo., to compete in the Junior Jam and Pro Pipe events. Tommy Okesson and Orr competed in the Junior Jam comprised of an invited field of 16 of the world’s best up-and-coming halfpipe riders under the age of 15. The pipe build this year varied from the traditional 22-foot construction; it was a modified pipe, which consisted of a 13-foot pipe that rolled into a traditional 22-foot superpipe. The course setup was challenging for some, but both boys adapted quickly during practice and were able to put together some creative lines and tricks on event day. Tommy Okesson ended up in ninth place with some stylish airs, smooth spins, and a mctwist. Orr made an impression with his mctwist – runner-up for Best Trick – and had some of the highest airs and spins of the day.
Joey Okesson, an OMS student-athlete in his senior year, was able to secure a number two alternate spot in the Pro Division. He received a last-minute call from Burton’s Head of Events to invite him to compete with the top athletes in the snowboard industry. The Pro semifinals took place under bluebird skies with spring temperatures with a star-studded lineup of the world’s best pipe riders that included Scotty James (AUS), Yuto Totsuka (JAP), and Danny Davis (USA). Okesson was one of the first to drop and handled the pipe with ease with one of his stock runs that put him in the middle of the field. He nailed his last run, placed seventh and qualified for the finals!
In the finals, the format switched from a two-run format to a three-run format and Okesson’s first two runs were technical and full of big tricks, but he was unable to stand up on his last hit, a frontside 1080. With one run left and immense pressure going into his last and final run, Okesson was able to put down one of the most impressive runs of the day, starting with a skate-influenced upper section in the mini pipe, followed by some of the highest airs of the day with a massive double crippler, followed by a super smooth back nine, and he punctuated the run with a soaring front-side 1080. With a high score of an 84.6, Okesson ultimately placed fifth and was the top American finisher at the event.