Words: T. Bird

The first event of the last stop on the Grand Prix circuit is in the books and to say that the energy level at the pipe was electric is the understatement of the century. Thousands of spectators poured out onto the slopes to cheer on US Olympic hopefuls and brave some less than ideal weather. Even though the skies cleared up toward the end of the first heat, the riders never faltered and provided all of their fans with one hell of a show.

The Park City Grand Prix had a different formula than the Copper and Mammoth stops. First of all, the event was invite only, to those riders who had proven their worth in the previous stops. Oh yeah, and all of those riders were Americans. No Japanese, European or Scandinavian riders were in attendance as the men's and women's US Team hopefuls eyeing one of the three coveted spots (Shaun White already had one spot locked before the event, as did Kelly Clark) battled it out in Park City's perfectly sculpted 22-foot superpipe.

Ellery Hollingsworth came out swinging with one of the most technical runs ever landed in women's competition, but it was 2006 Olympic gold medalist Hannah Teter that edged out Ellery in the second heat. And then along came Kelly. Kelly Clark is having her best competitive season maybe of all time. Kelly linked some of the biggest airs and most technical tricks of the night to take home the win and cement her dominance of women's halfpipe snowboarding. Clark looks to be rather unstoppable and people are looking to Gretchen (who finished with an impressive 4th place tonight), Hannah and Australian Torah Bright to give her a run for her money in Vancouver. Regardless of the outcome, you can be sure that it'll be all-out war up north in February. A catfight you won't want to miss, that's for sure.

The dudes went off. Plain and simple. With Shaun's spot locked for the 2010 team and Ohio's own Louie Vito looking to be a damn good possibility for the number two position as well, all eyes were on Greg Bretz, Scotty Lago, Zach Black and JJ Thomas who were a few spots back of Louie and Shaun. JJ and Zach couldn't hold it together to make the podium as Greg Bretz unleashed a frontside 12 double cork on his third hit to respectively put him in third place at the night's end. Personally, I was rooting for Lago. I won't lie. The kid fucking rules and when he put down arguably the biggest run of the night, the crowd went wild. Lago held the first spot for a little while until the one and only Shaun White dropped in and linked together a run worthy of one point away from perfection. A full-on 49, complete with back-to-back double cork tens and a quasi double McTwist ( I use the term loosely because, well, he changes his direction of spinning halfway through the trick, defying physics and preventing me from knowing the exact name) to cap off his nearly flawless run.

The first pipe event at the Park City Grand Prix is a wrap, but stay tuned to snowboardermag.com for all the updates, photos and videos from tonight's contest and tomorrow's as well. Side note: Tomorrow night's final is the last event of the Grand Prix series and will culminate with the official naming of the US Olympic team. Keep checking back to stay in the know.

2010 US Olympic Snowboard Halfpipe Qualifier #4
Park City, Utah January 22, 2010

Women’s Results:

  1. Kelly Clark
  2. Hannah Teter
  3. Ellery Hollingsworth
  4. Gretchen Bleiler
  5. Elena Hight
  6. Kaitlyn Farrington
  7. Maddy Schaffrick

Men’s Results:

  1. Shaun White
  2. Scotty Lago
  3. Greg Bretz
  4. Elijah Teter
  5. Luke Mitrani
  6. Louie Vito
  7. JJ Thomas
  8. Danny Kass
  9. Steve Fisher
  10. Dylan Bidez
  11. Broc Waring
  12. Brennen Swanson
  13. Jack Mitrani
  14. Zach Black
  15. Matt Ladley
  16. Andy Finch