Vail Valley’s Waring advances to Grand Prix finals |

Vail Valley’s Waring advances to Grand Prix finals

Summit Daily/Mark Fox

COPPER MOUNTAIN – Under a banner of clouds – and the signs of the six different sponsors – the snowboarders took back the pipe at the U.S. Halfpipe Grand Prix on Thursday.A day after the first freeski runs in the event’s history, male and female riders duked it out in qualifying heats on a windy, chilly day at Copper Mountain.And even in the frigid conditions, the nerves left some riders sweating out the results.But Edwards’ Broc Waring was his regular cool self, finishing third to advance to Saturday’s finals. The Ski and Snowboard Club Vail alum finished behind just Norway’s Torre-V. Holvik (26.9 points) and Luke Mitrani (26.8), of Mammoth, Calif., with a score of 26.7.”I’m pumped. I’ve been riding well, and it’s so good to land a solid run,” Waring said in a U.S. Snowboarding news release. “It gives me some extra confidence beginning the competition year like this. It’s the right way to kick it off, and hopefully, I can bring in the same thing in the finals.”Even though the field was missing one particular big name (Shaun White), the star power was still certainly there on the men’s side.Olympians Louie Vito, Scotty Lago and Greg Bretz all advanced through the qualifying heats, as did Mitrani, Waring and Holvik.Although, each had a bit of a different ride.Bretz and Vito cruised on two smooth runs, finishing near the top of their respective heats and easily advancing. Mitrani won the second heat, and Waring did the same in the first.”It’s just putting down a run you’re confident in and that you can land,” Vito said of making it through qualifiers. “You’re not going to do everything you got, but it has to be good enough to advance.”Lago didn’t have as easy of a time. Coming off a week in Beijing, where he competed in White’s Air & Style event, Lago didn’t have much time to prepare for this comp. Actually, make that no time at all.”I’m just kind of preparing as I compete,” he said. “It’s such a good pipe. With a pipe like this, your riding comes right back.” Although, it took him a couple of runs. Lago slipped out on an early hit his first time down the pipe but came back to stomp his second run. He wound up fourth in the heat.”I know I can do that run a million times. I did it all last year,” he said. “I just had to put everything aside and just ride.”As for the finals, Lago foresees a high-flying showdown. “I think it’s going to be a close one between me, Louie, Luke Mitrani and Greg Bretz. Those are kind of the heavy hitters here, but anything can happen,” he said. “I’d love to win, but I have to see if I can get my cab-10 back. I haven’t done it since the Olympics.”Clark cruises in qualifierKelly Clark is no stranger to success in the halfpipe, having won a title in virtually every single snowboarding competition.So, it was no surprise the former Olympic gold medalist dominated a fairly watered-down qualifying field Thursday, scoring a 27.9 on her first run and easily advancing to the finals.U.S. Snowboarding Team members Kaitlyn Farrington and Ellery Hollingsworth were second and third, respectively.The event was without three of the world’s top female riders – Vancouver gold medalist Torah Bright and Americans Gretchen Bleiler and Hannah Teter. U.S. Olympian Elena Hight didn’t compete, either.The finals, though, will still include Spain’s Queralt Castellet, Japan’s Soko Yamaoka and Aussie Holly Crawford, who all advanced from the 40-rider semifinal.Saturday’s finals start at 11:30 a.m. on the Main Vein Superpipe.

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