US halfpipe team dominates Copper Mountain
Kelly Clark and Taylor Gold lead U.S. Snowboarding podium sweeps
On the women's side , superstar Kelly Clark (98.00) celebrated her career's eighth win, a World Cup three-peat thus being the first US freestyle snowboarder to secure her ticket to Sochi. Clark will go into her career's fourth Winter Olympics.
“To be honest, it’s hard for me to compute 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,” she said.
“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 team veteran added.
However, Clark was able to throw down despite some stomach problems which didn't hold her back from adding a 1080 to her second run stepping up things in her victory lap (frontside air, backside 540, frontside 1080, cab 900, stalefish).
“I had a bit of a bug this morning and I literally got off the couch at 5:30 for practice. People were bringing me soup and Gatorade all day. I was hurting and trying to conserve my energy in practice. That was the first 1080 I did all day, just because I was trying to make sure I had enough energy to put runs down when I needed to.”
Reigning World Champion Arielle Gold took second (91.25) with Gretchen Bleiler rounding out the podium as third (86.00).
Rookie upsets elite
On the men's side of things, Taylor Gold, who just had sneaked in the finals as 16th of the qualifiers claiming the last spot of the finals, sealed the contest with 90.25. It was a career's first for the rising talent in his seventh World Cup start and an unexpected victory.
“It's just amazing. My approach is on landing runs. Not really focus on the results. I just want to land my run and ride my best.”
The 18-year-old shredder thus looks good to make the Olympic team due to a third rank finish at last weeks Dew Tour and his win in Copper Mountain.
“I just gonna let it flow and see what happens. If I got to the Olympics I'll be super excited. I hope I go now,” Gold said also having something in store in case the race for the national Olympic spots heats up again.
“I got another trick that I could possibly add and a couple of more things in mind, but right now it's mostly about cleaning up what I can already do.”
Team mate Gregory Bretz finished in second position (87.75) and thus joined Clark leading the World Cup tour. Ben Ferguson jumped on the third spot of the podium (87.00).
The best non-US riders were Sophie Rodriguez (85.00) and Arthur Longo (86.75). The two French athletes missed out the podium in high-class finals finishing fourth each.
The next halfpipe contest will take place in Stoneham, Canada, from Jan. 16 – thru 18, 2014 thus offering the last competition of the Olympic qualifier process.
Meanwhile, the snowboard freestyle weekend continues with a slopestyle contest at Copper Mountain, Sunday Dec 22 at 11 AM MST (7 PM CET)