Words: Pat Bridges
Photos: Aaron Dodds
With the conclusion of the US Snowboarding Grand Prix pipe finals at Copper Mountain, CO the North American competitive halfpipe season is officially underway. Over two dozen Olympic veterans were onhand to make the drop and hopefully gain a solid result leading into next weeks Breckenridge Dew Tour stop. Unfortunately all but one assembled European and Asian competitors in the field would have to settle for also ran status. Halting an American sweep of the Grand Prix pipe podium was Queralt Castellet. The young Spaniard set down a solid frontside 9 on the first hit of her second run to secure her third place. It has been two years since Maddy Shaffrick has made a Grand Prix podium but the 17 rider out of Steamboat Springs, Colorado has left her injuries in the past and returned to the Grand Prix circuit with a vengeance and a Haakonflip handily earning a second place finish. Soaring above the rest of the field for first place was Kelly Clark. In attition to her unprecedented airtime Kelly stomped a first hit frontside 9 as well as back to back 7′s to achieve her record breaking 25th career Grand Prix halfpipe victory.
Despite strong showings by America’s Benji Farrow, Finland’s Janne Korpi, Switzerlands’s Christian Haller, Australia’s Nate Johnstone and Japan’s Rya Aono the men’s Grand Prix pipe podium was rife with familiar faces. Greg Bretz appears in top form as his refined style on cork spins provides a proper counterpoint to his double cork enders. Bretz bested all but two members of the field but solidified his spot as an early contendor for a ticket to Sochi in 2014. Louie Vito executed the most technical runs of the day including three double corks but ultimately would have to settle for a second. Making only his second trip ever to the top of the podium was crowd favorite Luke Mitrani. Luke’s no speed check style and double cork repertoire, which includes both frontside and backside variations, is what set him apart from the pack and earned him a well deserved victory.
Next stop on the halfpipe circuit is Breckenridge, Colorado so keep checking back to snowboardermag.com for the latest news and results.