Dozens of American snowboarders and freeskiers shredded in pursuit of their Olympic dreams in four FIS World Cup contests at Copper Mountain, CO this weekend.
Boarding the “Sochi Express”
At this second of five selection competitions that will decide which American action athletes go to Sochi, two athletes jumped on this mythical “Sochi Express” by notching enough points to qualify for these Winter Olympics in February.
Kelly Clark destroyed the eight-boarder field by a 5.5 point margin to win the snowboard halfpipe event Saturday night. Coupled with her performance in last week’s opening qualification contest in Breckenridge, CO, where she led all Americans with a second place finish, the three-time Olympian once again punched a ticket to the Olympic Games.
“To be honest, it’s hard for me to compute right now. You plan, you dream, you train, and then it happens and you’re just kind of in awe,” said Clark.
Slopestyle skier Nick Goepper joins Clark on this ever-growing Team USA squad, expected to approximate 250 athletes. While Goepper threw down an impressive run for the runner-up spot, the 19-year-old sealed the deal for Sochi by winning in Breckenridge.
“The Olympics add a bit more pressure, but we’re just out here trying to get creative and have fun. It’s a dream come true,” said the light-hearted Goepper.
On the Train Platform
A few athletes are on the platform eager to join Clark and Goepper. And another podium finish at any of the remaining three qualifiers in January will position them as best bets for the U.S. Olympics Team.
On the woman’s side, ski halfpipers Brita Sigourney and Maddie Bowman have notched points by each winning an event, and finishing on the podium in their other outing. Sigourney’s win here at Copper, follows her bronze medal win at Breckenridge. In contrast, Bowman’s victory at Breckenridge was rounded-out by her silver medal earned at Copper.
Similar to Bowman’s success, two guys are also on-deck for Sochi.
Young gun ski halfpiper Aaron Blunck won Saturday’s event, followed by his silver medal last weekend. Further, Vancouver Olympian Gregg Bretz who won the halfpipe at Breckenridge, further solidified his standing by finishing second in Saturday evening’s event.
Knocking on the Train Station Door
Thanks to their single wins at either of these first two selection competitions, ski halfpiper David Wise, ski slopestylist Devin Logan, snowboard halfpiper Taylor Gold, and snowboard slopestylist Jamie Anderson are targeting another podium finish to land a seat on the Sochi Express.
Other podium finishers still in the running are snowboard halfpipers: Arielle Gold (Taylor’s younger sister), Olympics medalist Gretchen Bleiler, and the rising Ben Ferguson; ski halfpiper Gus Kenworthy; and ski slopestylist Grete Eliasson.
Last but not least, Shaun White’s bronze medal in snowboard slopestyle today, and his runner-up silver to Bretz last weekend, will serve as momentum for him at the final three contests: in Breckenridge once again, and two in Mammoth Lakes, CA - where the both snowboard’s and skiing’s halfpipe and slopestyle athletes will be officially nominated to Team USA on January 19th.