White and Clark Take First Grand Prix at Copper


White, Vito and Black on the road to Vancouver

By: Press Release

COPPER MOUNTAIN, CO (Dec. 12) – Olympic Champions Shaun White (Carlsbad, CA) and Kelly Clark (Mt. Snow, VT) were killing it as usual Saturday as they landed runs to finish first at the Sprint U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix – the first of five Olympic qualification events.

Gretchen Bleiler (Aspen, CO) and Louie Vito (Sandy, UT) took the second spots for men and women, and Zack Black (Breckenridge, CO) and Spain’s Quera Castellet were third.

With all eyes of the freezing crowd watching to see if he’d be as perfect as they’d heard, White did not fail to deliver a stellar run.

“It was great. It was a heavy competition. We’re doing tricks that have never been done before. I think today was the heaviest run I’ve ever done in a competition,” White said. “I’m just happy to get through it, get through the weather and be the leader here.”

For White, the win means being able to take a deep breath before he competes in Mammoth.

“I’m just excited because now I get a little breathing room before the next event and I think you’re going to see a whole new rider by the time it comes around,” White said.

While the DJ wasn’t making him throw out to double  corks to the tune of Tiny Dancer on this particular day, Vito had plenty of reason to be dancing given the clear dominance he had over the rest of the field below him.

“Hopefully my goal of making the Olympic team is going to come true,” Vito said. “No one is going to be sleeping on this. You just have to stay on it, keep pushing and keep moving forward.”

Vito had his sights set on beating White with two doubles, an air, a backside 9 and a frontside 1200, but it wasn’t in the cards for the day and Vito had to settle on a frontside 10 to end his run and land in second.

“Normally I have front 1200 on lock, but I just went a little straight up the wall and couldn’t hold on,” Vito said. “Second run I was already guaranteed a third and I decided to tone it down. I decided to do a 10 at the bottom and get it.”

Rounding out the podium was local Summit County boy and U.S. Snowboarding Rookie Zack Black (Breckenridge, CO) who was amped to land where he did in such a strong field.

“I’m pretty excited. It’s surreal,” Black said. “I showed up today not expecting that my run would have done well. I landed it second to go and somehow my score held for 32 runs.”

In the women’s pipe, Clark set the bar high with a huge first run of frontside air, backside five, frontside 900, backside air, frontside 700, cab 7.

“I liked having the Grand Prix at Copper. They did a great job today and I’m really excited,” Clark said. I was really happy with my first run. I’ve been working really hard on the fitness side of things and really preparing for this season mentally and physically every way I can. I feel like at this point in the season I’m riding better than I ever have.”

Clark, who sported a little bit of a black eye following a tumble on her second run, said that for her, everything revolves around the 2010 Games.

“Everything for me this season is leading up to Vancouver and every event I’m using as practice,” Clark said. “I’m pushing myself to do my most technical difficult run right now so it becomes a lot easier for me and a lot like second nature so I’m able to build and progress throughout the season. This is a great starting point.”

Bleiler echoed Clark that she, too, is putting down some of the best riding of her career this season, which sometimes serves as a double edge for the X Games gold medalist.

“I feel like I’ve been riding better than I ever have in my entire life. Maybe that led to some of my nerves today because I amped myself up so much,” Bleiler said. “It’s good practice because this kind of stuff is high pressure. I need to learn to overcome these nerves.”

Bleiler had some struggles on her first run, but found her center to land a clean, solid second run to put her in second.

“I had an option to do an easier run, but I didn’t want to do that today. I just wanted to throw my run,” Bleiler said. “I got around as best I could today and now I know exactly what I need to do in practice. There’s more to come.”

“Shaun, Louie, Gretchen and Kelly set the bar for the upcoming Grand Prix. The rest of the field can see what it takes to win. It takes big clean explosive progressive runs just like the ones that were thrown down today,” U.S. Snowboarding Halfpipe Head Coach Mike Jankowski said. It’s important for everyone to start things on a positive note with a good result and the confidence is there as we go into Mammoth.”

The next stop of the Sprint U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix rolls into Mammoth Mountain for two competitions Jan. 6-10.

Immediately following the halfpipe competition was an event of smaller proportions, but just as big talent – the Xbox Jr. Jam. The slope and rail setup featured local shredders of a younger generation who slid the rails all for the glory of winning an Xbox. Winning for the young men was 10-year-old Chase Blackwell of Longmont, CO, and for the young women, 13-year-old Arielle Gold who resides in Steamboat Springs.

Copper Mountain, CO – Dec. 12, 2009

1. Shaun White, Carlsbad, CA, 47.00
2. Louie Vito, Sandy, UT, 45.60
3. Zack Black, Breckenridge, CO, 44.10
4. Fredrik Austbo, Norway, 41.20
5. JJ Thomas, Golden, CO, 41.10
6. Greg Bretz, Mammoth Lakes, CA, 40.00
7. Steve Fisher, Breckenridge, CO, 39.40
8. Tore-V Holvik, Norway, 34.80
9. Ryo Aono, Japan, 34.00
10. Jack Mitrani, Mammoth, CA, 28.80

1. Kelly Clark, Mt. Snow, VT, 44.50
2. Gretchen Bleiler, Aspen, CO, 42.60
3. Soko Yamaoka, Japan, 40.20
4. Quera Castellet, Spain, 30.50
5. Ellery Hollingsworth, Stratton, VT, 35.80
6. Madeline Schaffrick, Steamboat Springs, Co, 35.50
7. Holly Crawford, Australia, 24.00
8. Clair Bidez, Minturn, CO, 13.60


~ by hrocker on December 13, 2009.

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