Seven Springs is a mecca for competitive snowboarders

| Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

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

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