Despite bitter cold temperatures at Copper Mountain in Colorado on Saturday, the action in the superpipe at the U.S. Grand Prix was red hot with Australian Torah Bright earning top honors for the women and fellow Aussie Nathan Johnstone snatching a surprise win for the men.
The event marked the first qualifier for the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, and the first 5star World Snowboard Tour event of the competitive season.
Bright’s win marked a triumphant return for her, as she hasn’t stood atop a pipe podium since earning gold at the Olympics in Vancouver in 2010. She’s been absent from the competitive scene the past two seasons, as she took time off to ride in the backcountry.
“I am so happy to have been able to put down a run and to have won. I have my Olympic qualification under way, and I’m excited to compete the rest of the season,” Bright said to fans and media following the event.
On the men’s side of things, Johnstone beat out the international field with his lofty airs and technical spins, marking Johnstone’s first major contest win.
“It feels unreal. I didn’t expect this result coming into this event–I am over the moon right now,” Johnstone said about his win. “It’s great to combine the two together [FIS and Tour points]. Almost every great halfpipe rider in the world was here and to compete with all the people I have looked up to for so many years is really special to me.”
Notably missing from the contest was two-time Olympic gold medalist Shaun White, who practiced in the pipe during the Grand Prix but pulled out of the event to train for slopestyle, where he is expected to compete in the upcoming X Games in Aspen, Colorado.