Clark and Aono take over halpipe World Cup lead
Kelly Clark (USA) and Ryo Aono (JPN) claimed victory at this season's second halfpipe World Cup event, staged at Mammoth Mountain (USA) today and took over the lead in the race for the Crystal Globe.
Getting the event in the books was tough for both the riders and officials as challenging weather conditions led to several postponements of the qualifiers which finally had to be canceled.
In the end, it all came down to today with all riders going straight to the finals in a two-run, best one counts final.
“It's been amazing to see what Mammoth has been able to this week, putting the pipe together, and making the right call for the riders, because not every comp does that. I'm glad we were able to get the contest off today. It's been a tough week of weather," said Kelly Clark.
And it was definitely worth the waiting as Clark, the first to drop in, underlined with a decent 82.40.
“We had an early start and I just tried to make the most of my practice, because I hadn't really had any. So I was just trying to play it strategically today, with that in mind.
I had a good practice and I got the runs done that I needed, but I definitely played it safe, or smart, whatever you want to say, my first run, with a basic, solid run,” said Clark.
When the wind finally died for the second run, the three-time Olympic medalist put the hammer down dominating the women's finals with a frontside air to back 5, a huge front 10, cab 7, front 5, backside air and a frontside inverted 7 to finish things off.
The veteran rider earned a 93.80 which set the bar too high for the rest of the field.
“I was able to really go for it on my second run. I was really happy with my riding today and it was a big confidence booster for me.”
In the end, Clark led an US team sweep of the podium accompanied by to young guns who stormed into the top-3 at their World Cup debut.
15-year-old coming superstar Chloe Kim secured the second place at her World Cup debut with 87.40 for a switch method to cab 5, switch back 3, McTwist, front 7 and cab 7.
Mammoth Mountain local Maddie Mastro rounded out the podium at her first World Cup as third with 83.20.
Aono vs Team America
In the men's event, 2009 world champion Aono kept a strong armada of US riders at bay by posting today's high of 91.20 right in his first run which kicked off with a backside air to front 10, cab double 10, frontside 9, back 5 and concluded with a frontside 1440 on his last hit.
Chase Josey (USA) came close with his technical second run consisting of a backside Michaelchuck to front double cork 10, switch crippler, switch backside 900, cab double 10 and front 9 (90.20) but couldn't edge off the Japanese athlete known for his amplitude from the top spot.
“Because the weather was a little windy there was definitely strategy going into the first runs, just wanting to land a run and then kinda see where you can go from there.
And then the weather got better and the wind died down and second run I just stepped it up and went for two more double corks. And that's what got me my score,” stated Josey after his career's first top-3 finish.
His teammate Gabe Ferguson (USA) earned his career's first podium securing the third rank with 85.80.
The freestyle World Cup circuit will be heading east now for this season's third halfpipe competition staged at the Grand Prix event in Park City, UT from February 4th – 6th, 2016.