COPPER MOUNTAIN, CO. (Dec. 10) — U.S. Snowboarding’s Kelly Clark (West Dover, VT) had quite the season last year, winning 10 of the 12 halfpipe contests she entered and landing the first-ever 1080 in women’s competition at Winter X Games. But one that eluded her was the Copper Grand Prix. After falling in the first run, Clark dropped into the Copper Mountain halfpipe as the second-to-last competitor Saturday and laid down a run with her signature amplitude and slow rotations to take the podium’s top step, winning the season’s first Sprint U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix just ahead of rookie teammate Maddy Schaffrick (Steamboat Springs, CO).
“I was so impressed with the level of riding today with the ladies. I thought it was one of the most progressive qualifiers and finals that I’ve seen and I’m really excited for the rest of the season. Seeing these girls ride so well is inspiring and it makes me want to be a better snowboarder,” Clark said.
In the men’s competition, Luke Mitrani (Stratton Mountain, VT) put down a huge first run to win. “This is crazy because I didn’t even snowboard this summer. I just skateboarded a lot and took my mind off snowboarding, so to jump back into it is crazy to win a contest. I’m shocked. My strategy was to just focus on my riding and feed off of other people. When someone does something big it makes me want to ride even harder for myself.”
Pro Halfpipe Team member Greg Bretz (Anaheim) placed third behind defending champion Louie Vito (Columbus, OH) in a contest full of upping the ante, as riders put down frontside 12s and a even few back-to-back double cork 10s while afternoon shadows moved over the Copper halfpipe.
The Copper Grand Prix had some major influence on the TTR Rankings. New leader of the TTR Halfpipe World Tour Ranking is Louie Vito, after coming in second here at Copper Mountain. Christian Haller, taking 5th place here, moved from the 10th to the 5th position making it into the top 5. Entering the top 10 from the 33rd position is Nathan Johnstone with his 8th place this weekend.
In the Women’s Halfpipe World Tour Ranking Kelly Clark remains her no. 1 spot, leading the pack. Queralt Castellet moved one spot up to the 2nd place, followed by Cai Xuetong moving up to 4th place, swapping with Gretchen Bleiler.
The Overall Tour Ranking finds a new male leader, with Benji Farrow taking over from Staale Sandbech. Silka Cadar remains number 1 with the women, with Queralt right behind her and Kelly Clark moving into the 3rd position.