Bleiler wins another Grand Prix
MT. BACHELOR, Ore. – The face of the 2006 U.S. Snowboard Olympic Team is taking shape and distinctly resembles riders Gretchen Bleiler and Shaun White. Bleiler won her second Chevrolet U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix halfpipe contest Sunday at Mt. Bachelor, Ore., scoring 42.5 points. White completed a Grand Prix hat trick with his third Grand Prix victory and a score of 45.3.Rounding out the women’s podium was Hannah Teter, adding a second-place finish to her win in Breckenridge, and Elena Hight, who now has three straight podium finishes. On the men’s side, Mason Aguirre finished second for the third-straight Grand Prix contest, while Danny Davis posted his second third-place finish in a row.”I learn more every contest, I see what everyone else is doing, and that helps a lot,” said White, who fought the dreaded 24-hour flu just the day before and had Saturday to recover when the contest was postponed because of weather. “It’s kind of hard to see up there. It’s really hard because I had to take my best run and tone it back a bit because of the weather. I think that’s what hindered a lot of people. The weather was holding them back from doing their tricks. But at a comp like this, you have to see who can ride the best in these types of conditions.”White, who wowed crowds and judges alike in Breckenridge with back-to-back 1080s, still dazzled onlookers Sunday with a huge straight air into a backside 9, frontside 720, cab 1080 complete with nosegrab, frontside 9 and a McTwist. White’s influence has obviously spread to the riders on his heels – namely Aguirre and Davis, who both threw back-to-back 1080s in their runs.As for what he’ll focus on heading into Torino, White said he’ll work on incorporating three 1080s into his run. His flight plan is a frontside 1080, cab 1080, a straight air to a backside 1080. “Just get it really big for the Olympics so I’m ready,” White said.Unfortunately, Bleiler woke up Sunday with the same stomach flu that had been sweeping the field. (Aguirre had it so bad the day before he made a trip to the hospital to get rehydrated, while Teter also was sidelined in the days prior to the contest.) But it didn’t seem to hinder her winning run, which featured her signature crippler, followed by a backside 540, frontside 540, backside air and finished with a frontside 720.”Last Olympics I had good results but it ended up coming down to a triple tie-breaker,” she said. “I was still thinking I hadn’t gotten it (her place on the Olympic team) yet. Then, considering what I woke up with this morning, I really had to give it everything I had, struggle through, but I think that may be what got me through, because I did have to work so hard for it.”Based on results from the Bachelor Grand Prix, the field of riders will be cut to the top 20 men and 10 women best qualified to make the Olympic team. Halfpipe riders will be named to the team based on the best two results from the five Grand Prix halfpipe contests. The U.S. Snowboard Olympic Team will be announced Jan. 21 following two more halfpipe contests at the final Chevrolet U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix in Mountain Creek, N.J.