Kelly Clark soars to the top qualifier spot in the women's halfpipe snowboarding competition at the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain in Colorado. (Getty Images-Tom Pennington)
Copper Mountain, CO (Dec. 4) – American halfpipe riders dominated an international field during the halfpipe snowboarding qualifiers at the 2014-15 Sprint U.S. Grand Prix in Copper Mountain, Colorado. Ben Ferguson (Bend, OR), Greg Bretz (Mammoth Lakes, CA) and Taylor Gold (Steamboat Springs, CO) picked up right where they left off last season, throwing down huge runs during halfpipe snowboarding qualifiers. Ferguson, who narrowly missed an Olympic start last year, landed the biggest run of the day with a double Crippler and a backside 900 on the first two hits, followed by a Cab double 1080 at the bottom for the highest scoring run of the day (94.5). Olympians Bretz and Gold finished second and third overall with Gold winning the first heat with a frontside double 1080 to Cab 1080 combo.15-year-old rookie rider Jake Pates (Eagle, CO) also put down an impressive run with back-to-back 1080s, earning him his first Grand Prix finals appearance.
In the women’s field, American Kelly Clark (West Dover, VT) led the contest in run number one with her signature huge airs and a pair of back-to-back 720s. Her teammates Arielle Gold (Steamboat Springs, CO) and Hannah Teter (Belmont, VT) and Spanish athlete Queralt Castellet all landed 900s in their runs, but still trailed Clark’s lead. Olympians Elena Hight (S. Lake Tahoe, CA) and Xuetong Cai from China also made Saturday’s Finals. Olympic Champion Kaitlyn Farrington (Bellevue, ID) was absent from the women’s field.
Tomorrow, the freeskiers will take to the halfpipe. 10 men and six women will battle it out in a three run final starting at 12:30 MST. The event will be live streamed on NBC Sports LiveExtra tomorrow at 2:30 EST and broadcast on NBC Sports Network Saturday at 5:00 p.m. EST.
Kelly Clark, Women’s Top Qualifier It was great to come out to the first event and do so well in qualifiers. It’s always an adjustment to get back into competition mode, so I’m very happy I put down two runs and made it to finals. I’m excited to have one more day in the pipe. I’m most looking forward to the three run finals. I think it’s going to raise the progression of women’s snowboarding and put on a good show.
Taylor Gold, Men’s Top Qualifier, Heat One Today went pretty good. I’m definitely stoked to be in finals, I didn’t land anything in practice so I was a big relief to land a run. The pipe is sick and I’m looking forward to Saturday. Three run finals are always better; it takes the pressure off.
Ben Ferguson, Men’s Top Qualifier, Heat Two I was super, super nervous for this so it feels really good to make finals. The pipe is really good and I’m going to try some new stuff in finals. Last season was hectic so I’m excited to work on some new tricks this year.