Kelly Clark and Taylor Gold 1st in halfpipe! © http://www.worldsnowboardtour.com/
Gold put down his winning score during the very first run of the competition after barley qualifying for the final in 16th. The entire international field was not able to top Gold’s run, which resulted in his career-first World Cup victory. All spots on the men’s Olympic team are still up for grabs, and the competition will be at an all time high when the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix goes to Breckenridge Jan. 8-11.
Olympic gold medalist Kelly Clark (West Dover, VT) mathematically clinched her spot on the 2014 Olympic halfpipe snowboarding team Saturday with her win at the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix at Copper. Clark led a U.S. sweep of the halfpipe finals with Arielle Gold (Steamboat Springs, CO) and Gretchen Bleiler (Aspen, CO). The American women took the podium, despite the slow and difficult conditions in the pipe. The rest of the U.S. women are now still in contention for the Olympic team, and competition will be fierce.
Rookie rider Taylor Gold (Steamboat Springs, CO) led a U.S. sweep with Greg Bretz (Mammoth Lakes, CA) and rookie Ben Ferguson (Bend, OR) in the halfpipe final at the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix at Copper.
Gold put down his winning score during the very first run of the competition after barley qualifying for the final in 16th.
The entire international field was not able to top Gold’s run, which resulted in his career-first World Cup victory. This showed the strength of the up-and-coming rookies like Gold and Ferguson and how they are pushing the veteran riders and progressing the sport this Olympic season.
Saturday’s results kept Bretz in the lead in the qualification standings while boosting Gold into second aboveShaun White (Carlsbad, CA), who chose not to compete Saturday in order to focus on the slopestyle competition on Sunday. Ferguson also moved up in the standings into third on Saturday.
Snow fell throughout the day, which made the halfpipe a bit slower than normal and prevented many riders from stomping tricks cleanly.
Womens Podium U.S Grand Prix
Taylor’s winning run: Backside 540, frontside 1260, double Michalchuk, frontside double cork 1080, cab 1080.
Bretz’s second-place run: Frontside double cork 1080, cab double cork 1080, frontside 900, backside 900, frontside 1080.
Despite the lead by Bretz and Gold, all spots on the men’s Olympic team are still up for grabs, and the competition will be at an all time high when the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix goes to Breckenridge Jan. 8-11.
Taylor Gold said of his performance:
‘My approach is just landing runs. I’m not really focused on the result, and I’m still not going to be focused on the result. I’m just want to land my run and ride my best. I’m just going to let it flow and see what happens. If I go (to Sochi), I’ll be super excited.’
Greg Bretz added:
‘I think I just locked it down today. I can’t really ask for anything better. They take the top two results, and in my first two contests my top two results are first and second. I’ve been working really hard this summer and it’s finally paying off.’
Clark sealed the contest with her first run score of 95.5 but dropped into her second ‘victory’ run and laid down an aggressive series of tricks, including a 1080, which scored her a 98.0.
With two wins, Clark has met the objective criteria and maintains a commanding lead in the points, virtually locking her spot on the Olympic team.
Olympic silver medalist Bleiler put down a clean run with a strong series of tricks and showed that she is ready for her third games.
With the rest of the field still in contention for the Olympic team, the competition will be fierce when the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix goes to Breckenridge Jan. 8-11.
Kelly Clark had the following to say of her performance:
‘To be honest, it’s hard for me to compete right now. You plan, you dream, you train, and then it happens and you’re just kind of in awe. I just had a conversation with my dad. He’s pretty excited, and perhaps in the next few days it’ll settle in. I love the Olympics. I love the opportunity to get to go every four years. But for me, it really is about the tricks. It really is about my riding. It’s about pushing myself. So even though I had the contest wrapped up at the end there, it was still important for me to go out and put down a good run that I could walk away being really proud of. I was happy to put down a good first run in finals and to come out and land the run that I wanted second run.’
The Grand Prix in Copper doubled as a 5 Star World Snowboard Tour event and FIS World Cup, Olympic qualifier. In Halfpipe Men’s rankings on the World Snowboard Tour, the top 5 remained in their spots, in the Women’s Ranking Arielle Gold managed to move up into 2nd, behind Kelly Clark and before Gretchen Bleiler.