Kelly Clark dominates field at Copper Grand Prix
Summit Daily News
COPPER MOUNTAIN — If one snowboarder could have claimed all three halfpipe podium spots in Saturday’s Sprint U.S. Grand Prix finals,then four-time Olympian and defending X Games gold medalist Kelly Clark would have done it — throwing down three finals runs that each bested the rest of the women’s field at Copper Mountain over the weekend.
The three-time Olympic medalist showed why she is snowboarding’s most decorated athlete, kicking off her season with a win at the first of three U.S. Grand Prix stops. Steamboat Springs native Taylor Gold claimed the top spot for the men with an impressive third run that jumped the Sochi Olympian up from eighth to first, making for back-to-back wins for both riders at the event.
“I love competition settings,” Clark said after the event, “Even in victory laps, I’m always trying to push myself.”
As the last to drop for the women, the 31-year-old could have taken it easy, having scored a 91.75 and 92.5 in her first two runs, but that just wouldn’t have been her style. She followed them up with an 87.7 in her final run.
“I was really happy with how I rode today,” she said. “This is definitely the strongest start I’ve had; most confident I’ve been; the most consistent my riding has been.”
Gold capped a thrilling final round of the men’s competition scoring a 96.75 as the second to last to drop.
He had failed to score higher than 60.5 in each of his previous runs.
“I feel unbelievable,” Gold said after the win. “I wasn’t expecting anything coming in, definitely cool to come away with a win.”
Eagle’s Jake Pates finished in seventh place.
Wise takes win in ski halfpipe
There was no Olympic hangover for American David Wise on Friday in the ski halfpipe finals. He picked up right where he left off in February in Sochi, claiming the top spot at the first major competition of the season.
The Winter Games halfpipe gold medalist scored a 92.4 in his first of three finals runs, which proved to be enough to hold off a competitive field of fellow Olympians.
“I would say this was the most intense competition we’ve ever had this early in a season,” Wise said of the finals, which saw all three podium finishers scoring in the 90s. “Usually a lot of guys fall and there’s a lot of mistakes. But everybody was skiing pretty solid today. If that’s any indication of what Dew Tour and X Games are going to be like this year, it’s going to be pretty unreal.”
Aspen native and U.S. Olympic teammate Torin Yater-Wallace also christened the season with a strong start, claiming second after scoring a 91.0 in his second run.
On the women’s side, New Zealand’s Janina Kuzma claimed top honors, followed by American slopestyle silver medalist Devin Logan and Japanese halfpipe bronze medalist Ayana Onozuka.