Words: Pat Bridges
As a 13 year old grommet, Australian Torah Bright’s snowboarding talent, drive and passion took her to Whistler, BC where she first lived on her own for a whole season. Now nearly a decade later, that same talent, drive and passion has taken her to the pinnacle of women’s snowboarding: The top rung of the Olympic halfpipe podium. It seems only fitting that this feat would come at Cypress, which is less than 100 kilometers from where her pro snowboarding journey began!
“The top tier of women’s competitve halfpipe snowboarding has consistently been pushing each other to new heights for nearly a decade.”
The top tier of women’s competitve halfpipe snowboarding has consistently been pushing each other to new heights for nearly a decade. Yet with only a handful of exceptions, four names have dominated the circuit since Y2K. With this in mind, the 2010 Women’s Olympic Halfpipe finals played out as most keen observers predicted. The one exception would be the absence of Gretchen Bleiler on the podium. The Colorado native who silvered in Torino in 2006 came to Cypress on the short list of contenders. Ever the competitor, Bleiler did everything but play it safe. Though she stuck a first hit 9, a back 5 and a Crippler 7 on her second run in the finals, a hooked nose on a Cab seven depleted her medal hopes.
If any controversy could be drawn from this event it would be associated with the lower two medal finishes. 2002 SLC Gold medallist Kelly Clark came through in the clutch on her second run with a run which not only included a front 9, a back 5 and a back to back front 7 combo, but it also showcased the most airtime of the evening. Silver medalist Hannah Teter, who herself was the recipient of Torino gold, did basically the same run as Clark, albeit in a different sequence with different grabs and slightly less style and amplitude. Of course this is a judged event so discrepancies are commonplace. Either way, both Clark and Teter did themselves, their country and their sport proud.
This leads us to the top spot which was earned by the most progressive rider women’s snowboarding has seen since Nicola Thost took home the gold in the ’98 Nagano Games.
Though she has US Open, TTR, X Games and World Championship titles to her credit, her greatest feat is undeniably her 2010 Vancouver gold. What set Bright apart from the rest of the female field was her technical trickery and smooth style. Her uncommon flow on combos like back 3 to switch back 7 is what set her apart. Like White’s backside 12 double McTwist, Bright’s switch backside 7 is a move that was and is unmatched by her peers.
All the female Olympic halfpipe participants shined tonight, but one shined brighter than the rest, and her name was Torah. From SNOWBOARDER Magazine, congrats Torah.
Here are the 2010 Vancouver Women’s Olympic Halfpipe medal winning runs and how they were scored.
Kelly Clark, USA
Frontside air, backside 5, frontside 7, Cab 7, frontside 9
Hannah Teter, USA
Backside air, frontside 9, backside 5, frontside 180, Cab 7, frontside air
Torah Bright, Australia
Backside 3, switch backside 7, backside 5, air to fakie, Cab 7