2010 Olympic watch: Shaun White wins U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix at Mammoth
Tahoe Daily Tribune
MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN – The Flying Tomato was right at home at the center of attention.
After finishing runner-up to Truckee’s Danny Davis on Wednesday, Shaun White landed back in the spotlight by capturing first place in Saturday’s U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix with a high-flying first run highlighted by two double corks.
White’s run went unchallenged throughout the second round, as Louie Vito slipped into second place with a double-cork run of his own, and JJ Thomas rounded out the podium in third place.
“I’m feeling great,” White said as he tried to escape a mob scene of fans at the base of the pipe. “I’m on the team.”
With the win White clinched a spot on the U.S. men’s halfpipe team headed to the Olympic Games next month.
Dropping in last in the field of 17 riders, White dug deep into his bag of tricks on his victory-lap second run and nearly landed a fresh variation of the double cork – a difficult trick that has upped the ante in halfpipe competition this season.
“It’s a double cork McTwist 1080, but that last one I went 1260, so I’m going to have to pick and chose if I want to take it 12 or keep it 10,” White said in a U.S. Snowboard Team interview. “It’s been a trick that’s been messing with me for a while, but I’m excited to try to put it down in Park City and hopefully at the Games.”
Davis, who won Wednesday’s U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix contest by landing an unprecedented three double corks in a near-perfect run, crashed early in both his runs Saturday on double-cork attempts and finished 16th. Davis qualified second behind White on Thursday.
Luke Mitrani finished fourth and was followed by Zach Black in fifth. Elijah Teter of the South Shore placed ninth, while Truckee’s Andy Finch, a member of the 2006 Olympic halfpipe team, finished 11th.
“The pipe was a little challenging, just a little inconsistent,” said Teter. “But I was going for it anyway.”
After falling on his first run – only five riders landed clean first runs on Mammoth’s 22-foot pipe – Vito opened his second run with a smooth double cork straight into a cab (switch-stance) double cork. He finished it off with a mandatory straight air to a backside 900, and a 1080.
Thomas, meanwhile, finished right on Vito’s heels with a second run that did not include a double cork. Instead, the veteran stuck to what he knew, throwing a big frontside 1080 into a cab 1080, a mandatory straight air, backside 900 to frontside 900.
“Dude, I wanted it so bad,” Thomas said. “The first run I messed up, but I got it down on the second one.”
Saturday’s contest was the fourth of five U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix contests, which are used to determine the U.S. Olympic roster.
2010 Sprint U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix
Mammoth Mountain, CA – Jan. 9, 2010
Halfpipe – top 10
1. Shaun White, Carlsbad, CA, 47.00
2. Louie Vito, Sandy, UT, 45.60
3. JJ Thomas, Golden, CO, 45.00
4. Luke Mitrani, Mammoth Mountain, CA, 44.20
5. Zack Black, Breckenridge, CO, 43.30
6. Steve Fisher, Breckenridge, CO, 41.90
7. Scotty Lago, Seabrook, NH, 39.40
8. Matt Ladley, Steamboat Springs, CO, 39.30
9. Elijah Teter, South Lake Tahoe, CA, 37.90
10. Dylan Bidez, Minturn, CO, 30.40