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Seven Springs is a mecca for competitive snowboarders

| Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
A competitor rockets off of one of three jumps during the Women's Slopestyle competition on Saturday February 1, 2014.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Dense fog and steady rain didn't stop the half pipe events on Sunday February 2, 2014.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Tyler Nicholson of North Bay, Canada, soars high above Seven Springs Mountain Resort during the Men's Slopestyle competition at the Burton US Open Snowboarding Qualifiers on February 1, 2014. Nicholson came in third place in the event and earned a spot to compete in Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships in Vail, Colo.
Sean Stipp | Trib Total Media
Snowboarding at Seven Springs Mountain Resort
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Bo Warren of Ipswich, Mass., wipes out on a rail during a practice run for the Men’s Slopestyle competition at the Burton US Open Snowboarding Qualifiers at Seven Springs Mountain Resort on January 31, 2014.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Brett Moody of Anchorage, Alaska, goes upside down after launching from a jump during practice for the Men’s Slopestyle competition at the Burton US Open Snowboarding Qualifiers at Seven Springs Mountain Resort on January 31, 2014.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Competitors gather at the starting gate when the slopestyle course is open for a practice on January 31, 2014.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
A competitor glides above one of only two Olympic-size halfpipes on the East Coast during practice on Saturday, February 1, 2014, at Seven Springs Mountain Resort.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Asami Hirono of Toyama, Japan, celebrates by popping the cork on sparkling cider after winning firsr place in the Women’s Slopestyle competition at the Burton US Open Snowboarding Qualifiers at Seven Springs Mountain Resort on February 1, 2014. Hirono earned a spot to compete in the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships in Vail, Colo.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
A competitor pulls off a method grab on Saturday, February 1, 2014 during practice for the men’s halfpipe competition.

Some of the world's top amateur snowboarders consider Seven Springs Mountain Resort their proving ground.

Competitors from North America, Europe and Japan recently descended on the resort for the Burton U.S. Open Qualifiers, in which three women and six men secured spots to compete in halfpipe and slopestyle events against pro riders at the championships in Vail, Colo., on March 3-8.

U.S. Olympic halfpipe snowboarding team member Taylor Gold, who competed in Sochi, Russia, won the qualifiers last year when Seven Springs first hosted the event.

In the slopestyle competition, riders perform difficult tricks while mastering obstacles and long jumps. The halfpipe is a U-shaped trench with walls.

“I am excited to compete and learn from the best in the world,” said this year's first-place finisher in the women's halfpipe competition, Summer Fenton, 19, of San Francisco, who started riding at age 4 — not uncommon in the sport.

With one of only two Olympic-size halfpipes on the East Coast, Seven Springs is poised to become a regional incubator, outfitted with facilities to train snowboarders to compete on the world stage.

Sean Stipp is a Trib Total Media photographer. Reach him at sstipp@tribweb.com.

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