Bright, Clark set for secretive halfpipe showdown
AP National Writer
WEST VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Torah Bright and Kelly Clark left Olympic halfpipe qualifying acting like a couple of savvy poker players. Hard to know what they’re holding in their hands.
Bright, the Aussie, insisted she would not try to become the first woman to try a double-cork trick – two head-over-heels flips – in competition, even though she’s been working on it for a year.
Clark, the American, said she had something “new and different” in store for Thursday night’s final.
“You’ll have to stay tuned,” she said. “You’ll have to watch.”
Hard as it may be, they will try to top the show Shaun White put on the night before, when he wrapped up the gold medal, then used his second run as a victory lap – showing off, and landing, his patented Double McTwist 1260.
“I think it was the best competition for the guys, ever,” said Hannah Teter, the defending gold medalist, who moved through qualifying along with Clark and Bright. “It was so inspiring to watch them. It really pumped me up to ride today.”
Though it hardly mattered, about the only thing really missing from White’s night on the halfpipe was any question about who would win. Nobody could touch him.
The women’s contest is a different story.
Clark and Bright posted the top two scores in qualifying and would seem to have the best scoring potential. But Gretchen Bleiler, the 2006 silver medalist, beat Clark recently at the Winter X Games. Teter also looked better than she has, of late, and Spain’s Queralt Castellet, not a household name, put down a high-flying run to place third in qualifying.
Possibilities range anywhere from an American sweep to no Americans on the podium.
“We haven’t really talked about it,” Bleiler said of the American sweep possibility. “Everyone’s working on doing their best, and the results will come.”
The big tricks to watch Thursday night will be:
-Bleiler’s corked 900 at the top of the pipe – the trick that put her over the top last month at the X Games.
-Whatever Clark pulls out. She already jumps higher than any of the women, which sets her apart and gives her an edge before she does a single twist or flip.
-Bright’s decision on the double cork. She said the halfpipe wall at Cypress Mountain is a “bit too verty” – too sharp an angle between the bottom and the start of the wall – to try the trick.
“So, I don’t think I’ll be trying it here, because I’ll land in the middle of the pipe,” she said.
But might she really need it to win?
“I don’t think so,” she said, “but we’ll see.”
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