Mammoth events for Olympic halfpipe hopefuls
MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN – Following an opening event that took halfpipe riding to new realms of creativity, Mammoth Mountain welcomes the 2010 Sprint U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix Tuesday through Sunday, Jan. 10, for two full-field halfpipe competitions.
The events will help determine the roster of the U.S. Olympic halfpipe team. Mammoth’s 22-foot superpipe will give athletes their last two competitions in which they can qualify for the Olympic halfpipe team.
The men’s field looks to again be stacked by all who can land double corks. Shaun White of Carlsbad, Calif., won the first stop of the Grand Prix with a double double corked run, and Louie Vito of Sandy, Utah, was right on the 2006 gold medalist’s heels with his own variations of the trick. Also looking to attach the phrase 2010 Olympian to their name will be Mammoth Lakes’ own Greg Bretz and Luke Mitrani and wildcard Zach Black of Breckenridge, Colo., who took third at the first stop of the Grand Prix in Copper, Colo.
In the women’s field, Kelly Clark of Mt. Snow, Vt., is her usual dominating self this season. After taking the win in Copper Mountain, she is looking to throw down in Mammoth. Joining her will be Gretchen Bleiler of Aspen, Colo., who was second at the tour’s first stop, and reigning Olympic gold medalist Hannah Teter, a Meyers part-time resident.
Taking the competition up a notch in the women’s field are 2006 Olympian Elena Hight of the South Shore, Ellery Hollingsworth of Stratton, Vt., and U.S. Snowboarding rookie Maddy Schaffrick of Steamboat Springs, Colo.
Hight is anxious to resume her pursuit of qualifying for the Olympics in California.
“There hasn’t been a contest there for quite a few years,” she said. “It’s an awesome mountain, and I’m excited to be there for the next two contests, for sure.”
However, Hight said that packing two qualifiers in five days isn’t ideal.
“Back-to-back events is pretty stressful,” she said. “That means lot of runs in a short period of time. I’m just going to to have some fun, do my best and cheer on my friends.”
The action in Mammoth starts with qualifying for the first halfpipe competition on Tuesday. Men’s qualifiers run from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and women’s from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Finals begin at 1 p.m. Wednesday. Qualifying for a second halfpipe will start at 9:30 a.m. Friday and finals are scheduled for 1:30-3 p.m. Saturday. The busy week will conclude with a slopestyle event on Sunday. Slopestyle qualifying is from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday, and finals are set for 11 a.m. Sunday.
NBC will televise the event Jan. 10 and Versus will provide coverage on Jan. 17.