The battle is set to continue between America's snowboard prodigy, Shaun White, and the newest threat on the scene, Danny Davis. The battleground will be in Mammoth Lakes massive 22 foot halfpipe for the thrid stop of the Grand Prix Olympic Qualifier series.
White has long been the favorite to win, but with Davis laying down the winning run, and what many are calling the best halfpipe run ever executed at the last Grand Prix, the industry seems to have become divided as to who should own the title of the all-time best pipe rider.
White won the first stop of the Grand Prix series at Copper Mountain, CO and now that Davis' has the win from this weeks second stop in Mammoth Lakes, CA they are going into the third stop neck and neck.
Both White and Davis' rode extremely well in qualifiers today, setting themselves up in prime position for tomorrow's finals by taking the number one and number two qualifying spots respectively. In fact, Davis only scored six tenths of a point below White's top score of 45.80. Qualifiers don't always tell the tale of what will happen in the following finals though, so with White scoring just tenths of a point ahead Davis' it can not be assumed that White will take the win tomorrow. It's anyone's game.
Many other popular riders qualified in the top 15 spots today and will move onto tomorrow's final, including Olympic Bronze medalist J.J. Thomas, Dancing with the Stars Louie Vito and the Frends crew brothers Luke and Jack Mitrani.
2010 Sprint U.S. SNOWBOARDING GRAND PRIX Stop 3
Mammoth Mountain, CA - Jan. 8th, 2010
1. Shaun White, Carlsbad, CA, 45.80
2. Danny Davis, Detroit, MI, 45.20
3. Dylan Bidez, Minturn, CO 43.10
4. Jarret Thomas, Golden, CO, 41.40
5. Elijah Teter, South Lake Tahoe, CA, 43.00
6. Louie Vito, Sandy, UT, 43.40
7. Nathan Johnstone, Aus, 40.70
8. Zachary Black, Breckenridge CO, 39.50
9. Steve Fisher, Breckenridge, CO, 39.70
10. Matt Ladley, Steamboat Springs, CO, 39.40
11. Mathieu Crepel, France, 38.90
12. Luke Mitrani, Mammoth, CA, 38.20
13. Andy Finch, Truckee, CA, 38.00
14. Jack Mitrani, Mammoth, CA, 37.90
15. Brad Martin, Canada, 37.20
1. Kelly Clark, Mt. Snow, VT, 45.60
2. Hannah Teter, Belmont, VT, 44.00
3. Gretchen Bleiler, Aspen, CO, 41.30
4. Clair Bidez, Minturn, CO, 39.90
5. Holly Crawford, Australia, 38.90
6. Ellery Hollingsworth, Stratton, VT, 38.30
7. Elena Hight, South Lake Tahoe, CA, 37.90
8. Maddy Schaffrick, Steamboat Springs, CO, 37.20
Though hearts were heavy, the nation's top snowboarders showed no signs of slowing down Tuesday during the first of two Grand Prix Olympic Qualifiers taking place in Mammoth Mountain this week. Riders from around the world are still reeling from last week's tragic story surrounding U.S. Olympic hopeful Kevin Pearce. The 22 year old from Norwich, Vt., suffered a life threatening injury last Thursday while training in Park City. As of Wednesday morning, Pearce remains in critical but stable condition in a Utah hospital.
Aside from being a solid contender for the podium in Vancouver, Pearce is a key player in the influential "Frends Crew" that's been making a very positive impact on the sport. There is no "I" in their version of friends because Pearce and his buddies Danny Davis, Kier Dillon, Mason Aguirre, Scotty Lago and brother's Luke and Jack Mitrani choose to shun individual acclaim in favor of group fun. The eclectic group of talented riders has proven time and time again that working with each other, rather than competing against each other, is highly effective.
Indeed, several members of the Frends Crew are still in the hunt to make the elite U.S. Olympic halfpipe team. During today's early rounds Davis, Jack Mitrani and Scotty Lago all qualified for Wednesday's Final. Even with their hearts back in Utah, they showed no signs of hesitation as they rode in Kevin's honor. Making the final cut won't be easy though with boarders like Louie Vito, J.J. Thomas, Danny Kass and the unstoppable Shaun White all vying for the same spots. Only four will qualify.
Luke Mitrani and Mason Aguirre failed to make the top 16 cut Tuesday, but true to Frends Crew form, they'll be stomping hard for boys today.
Shaun White took the top spot in today's qualifiers on the strength of his second run, which included back-to-back double corks. Meanwhile, the surprise package of the day was 18 year old Greg Bretz, a young-gun from Mammoth whose 45.90 total score makes him a force to be reckoned with.
On the ladies side Kelly Clark reached her familiar first place position. And after suffering a minor injury earlier this year, Hannah Teter looked inspired in her return to competition. She snagged second place over Gretchen Bleiler, who rounded out the top three.
1. Shaun White, Carlsbad, CA, 47.10
2. Greg Bretz, Mammoth Lakes, CA, 45.90
3. Jeff Batchelor, Canada, 43.80
4. Louie Vito, Sandy, UT, 43.40
5. Danny Davis, Detroit, MI, 43.30
6. Elijah Teter, South Lake Tahoe, CA, 43.00
7. Broc Waring, Edwards, CO, 42.20
8. Justin Lameroux, Canada, 41.30
9. JJ Thomas, Golden, CO, 41.20
10. Jack Mitrani, Mammoth, CA, 40.70
11. Steve Fisher, Breckenridge, CO, 39.70
12. Matt Ladley, Steamboat Springs, CO, 39.70
13. Scotty Lago, Seabrook, NH, 39.60
14. Brennen Swanson, Stillwater, MN, 39.00
15. Andy Finch, Truckee, CA, 39.00
16. Mathieu Crepel, France, 38.90
1. Kelly Clark, Mt. Snow, VT, 46.50
2. Hannah Teter, Belmont, VT, 43.90
3. Gretchen Bleiler, Aspen, CO, 43.10
4. Ellery Hollingsworth, Stratton, VT, 42.40
5. Maddy Schaffrick, Steamboat Springs, CO, 41.90
6. Elena Hight, South Lake Tahoe, CA, 40.50
7. Clair Bidez, Minturn, CO, 39.90
8. Holly Crawford, Australia, 39.00
By Heather Hendricks
Here at Grindtv.com we pressed rewind on 2009 and looked back at all the moments that shook the world of snow. From dancing divas, OMG moments and comeback queens, we sifted through it all and came up with our picks for the 2009 "BEST OF" SNOW AWARDS.
Most Main Stream Media Coverage:
Louie Vito- Snowboard
This one's obviously a no-brainer. Vito's stint on Dancing with the Stars propelled this shredder to a new level of stardom.
Gretchen Bleiler- Snowboard
The queen of snowboarding wins this award for her numerous TV appearances and print features. From Conan to the Today Show, Snowboarder to TWS. Gretchen and her new husband Chris Hotel even landed a spread in "Brides Magazine" featuring their Costa Rican wedding. See our girl all "glammed" out
Simon Dumont- Ski
Why you ask? Because it's Simon. The guy is a marketable prodigy. Just check out his list of sponsors, and see how many times he's been on MTV. He even appeared on the Ellen Show after breaking the world quarterpipe height record.
Simon at the 2009 Winter X Games Ski Big Air. Photo www.nateabbott.com
Sarah Burke- Ski
Ms. Burke (soon to be Mrs.) has appeared in mainstream magazines such as Maxim and FHM. She also won female action athlete of the year at last year's ESPY's and is aptly known as skiing's dominating darling.
Most Hyped Olympians:
Shaun White- Snowboard
This surely comes as no surprise with all of Shaun's commercials, TV appearances, video games, a second line for Target, and a $500,000 private halfpipe in the Colorado backcountry. All the bells and whistles are well deserved though, Shaun is about 10 steps ahead of the game with his pipe riding and is as close to a sure bet for going to Vancouver as anyone. Stay tuned to the Grand Prix coverage here on GrindTV.com to see if he makes the cut.
Everyone wants a piece of Mr. White. Photo: www.nateabbott.com
This Boardercross powerhouse was favored to win the 2006 Olympics, but her showboating cost her the gold in Torino. (Who can forget the disastrous method and subsequent crash.) The big hype around Lindsay this year is her chance at redemption. With World Cup titles and X Games Golds over the past four years we're sure she can do it, as long as she doesn't try this again-
Bode Miller- Ski
Bode Miller is no stranger to stealing the spotlight. People have been hyping this dude for years. What do you think of his chances? Search him, and see what eveyone's saying on Yahoo Sports.
Jennifer Heil- Ski
Jennifer Heil is a mogul skier who won the gold in Italy in 2006, and she is favored to win again this year. Follow her twits all the way to the gold- twitter.com/JennHeil
"Heart of Gold" Philanthropy Award:
Louie Vito- Snowboard
Our mainstream media pick also wins for having the biggest heart. Louie Vito has used his new stardom to help those in need. This year he hosted the 6th annual Louie Vito Rail Jam at his home resort- Mad River Mountain. With the help of his family and sponsors, Vito raised money for charity and donated all of the proceeds from the comp to those in need. See pics of Vito giving back here-
Hannah Teter- Snowboard
What do maple syrup, snowboarding, and Africa all have in common? Hannah Teter! Teter has pledged to donate all of her contest earnings to the small village of Kiridon, Africa. Teter has also created a maple syrup business and is donating all the profits to the impoverished village. To get involved check out www.hannahsgold.com
JP Auclair- Ski
JP formed the humanitarian organization called Alpine Initiatives and built an orphanage/school in Kenya for kids. He is a super nice guy, with a really big heart, and we love him for it. See what's he's all about here- www.alpineinitiatives.com
In 2007, Eliasson donated an entire $25,000 dollar prize purse to charity. Since then Grete continues to help with numerous charities, and plans to donate future winnings to help those in need. Grete also has a sweet blog. Check it out. www.greteeliassen.com
Break out Performances:
Tyler Flanagan- Snowboard
Young gun Tyler Flanagan wins this award for busting-out and breaking-down the competition at the first stop of the Winter Dew Tour in Breck just a few weeks ago. Flanagan stomped his way to 1st place in Slopestyle by getting techy on the rails and staying consistent in the massive triple-line. Big ups to this little guy- and watch out for him in the future. Check his winning run-
Maddie Schaffrick- Snowboard
Miss Maddie Schaffrick is a ripper. At age 15 she's already proven she can hang with the big dogs. Big ups for winning best trick at the Snow Angels contest in Aspen back in April. Keep your eye out for Maddie on top of many podiums in the future.
Dane Tudor- Ski
Dane won male skier of the year at IF3 for his segment in Poor Boyz' film (and could potentially win at the Powder Awards too) and this was his first official year being 'pro.' If that's not breakout, then we don't know what is.
Anna Segal- Ski
Anna won X-Games Slopestyle last February and is paving a new path for the next generation of Women's ski slopestyle.
Best Comeback Shredder:
Ross Powers- Snowboard
You may remember Ross "The Boss" Powers winning the gold medal in Salt Lake, City Olympics for Halfpipe back in 2002. Now the solid shredder is looking to represent the US of A in the Vancouver Olympic games in boardercross. Duel sport Olympian? We're all about it. Here's his podium performance at the recent Telluride World Cup.
Tara Dakides - Snowboard
Known as the first woman pro snowboarder- Dakides flew to stardom with her flawless style and fearless attitude. Now as the young guns slide into the spotlight for freestyle shredding, Dakides is back in action on the boardercross side of things. (Must be a new trend) And of course, Tara still holds it down and is dominating.
TJ Schiller- Ski
TJ Schiller overcame a blown-out knee to come back and win the 2009 Winter X-Games. Impressive to say the least.
Kaya Turski- Ski
After sitting out of skiing for almost two years with injuries, Kaya Turski came back in 2009 and podiumed at every single Slopestyle competition she entered. She won most of them and is the comeback threat of the year in the world of girls freeskiing.
Mega Movie Part Must See:
Jp Walker in "This Video Sucks"- Snowboard
JP Walker's part in StepChild's "This Video Sucks" is super progressive, and really impressive. His entire part is done switch. Crazy, but true- Peep the trailer here.
Jenny Jones in "Stance" -Snowboard
Jenny Jones' part in "Stance" is epic. It's a definite must see for 2009. Jenny makes girls snowboarding fun to watch. Get teased here.
Shane McConkey in MSP's "In Deep"- Ski
It's his final segment. Its more than a must-see, It's a tribute.
Ingrid Backstrom in MSP's "In Deep"- Ski
Ingrid rips big mountain harder than most dudes. Especially in her part in this years "In Deep."
Friendliest Competitor Award:
Smiling here, and patting the back of his competitors there, Chaz Guildemon easily won our hearts as he is arguably the nicest guy in snowboarding- Keep smiling bud- We love you for it!
Torah Bright- Snowboard
Torah- competitor and comrade. Photo: www.nateabbott.com
The Australian sweetheart Roxy rider is our women's snowboard pick for friendliest competitor. If you've ever glanced her earnest smile or met her in person than you know why. She is always super nice, at least until you pick a fight with her. See what we're talking about here
TJ Schiller- Ski
TJ Schiller is the nicest, most approachable pro in skiing. Seems like Schiller is always grinning. Just look at his sweet baby face!
Sarah Burke- Ski
This was an easy pick. Sarah's been the queen bee of the ski girls for years and all of their biggest inspiration. She's always willing to lend a helping hand or sign an autograph for a young fan.
Best Overall Shred Flick:
Skeleton Crew's "Group Effect" - Snowboard
Dirty, Grimy, Raw, & Radical, pretty much sums up this banger video. Check out the whole thing here. Bingo!
Poor Boyz Productions' "Every Day is a Saturday"- Ski
It's just dayum good. It speaks for itself- be sure to check it out.
Urban Rail Rippers:
Bursting on the scene with long hair and a beefy beard, Rome's LNP (Laurent Nicolas Paquin) grabbed our attention with his slick style on and off the rails. Watch and learn with his Trick-tip vid (BS 180 to Rail) here
Capita's only lady Pro shred wins this award for the simple fact that she destroys it. You just can't deny it. (P.S. She's back from injury this year and on-fire!)
Phil laid down one of the most impressive urban segments of all time in Level 1's Refresh.
Kaya Turski- Ski
In the skiing world Kaya is one of the only girls that goes after the Urban. Get some.
Did That Just Happen? Standout Moments of the Year:
Remember back in January when Kevin almost beat Shaun in halfpipe during Winter X? It was super close, but Shaun ended up with the controversial win. We all know KP has the skills to take down Shaun, so will 2010 be his lucky year? Time will only tell. (Ed update: Kevin was seriously hurt on New Years Eve while training pipe in Park City. GrindTV.com will be updating his recovery.)
Kevin Pearce going HUGE at the 2009 Winter X Games where he barely missed taking the Gold. Photo: www.nateabbott.com
Gretchen Belier- Snowboard
Aspen's home town hero was expected to throw down at this year's X-games, but a buckle on the lip made GB crash to the flats. The fall was brutal and took Gretchen out of the contest- check out the harrowing fall that shocked us all-
Gretchen being helped up after her crash at the 2009 Winter X Games. Photo: www.nateabbot.com
Tom Wallisch- Ski
Tom has the best style in skiing. He standouts every run, just because his style makes it look so fun.
Ingrid Backstrom- Ski
Ingrid wins this award for her balls to the walls shredding of big AK lines. Again, check out "In Deep". The proof is in the pudding.
Well, there you have it. Congrats to the winners and bring on 2010!
Happy New Year everyone. With love, The GrindTV Editorial Crew.
Do I really even need to tell you who won today? Didn't most of us hedge our bets before this season even started? Yes, Shaun won, but more on that in a minute.
If they make a wax figure out of Shaun White they should probably make it in this pose, he gets to claim a lot of wins. Red Bull can and all. (P) Nate Abbot
Greybird skies, bitter cold temps and light flurries crept back into Copper for Saturday's finals, which contributed to many riders not being able to land their runs today.
Once in a while this kind of thing happens. A qualification day like Friday's Grand Prix's qualifications will have a higher level of riding then the day of finals. You almost have to feel sorry for the 1,000 or so spectators that braved Colorado's Interstate 70 to come watch the best riders in the world. If only they knew what they missed the day before. The field of riders yesterday just trying to make it into finals was so stacked that everyone had to give it their all. Just making it to today's finals was a victory- some of the favored to podium today's event didn't even make it in, including Kevin Pearce, Luke Mitrani, Torah Bright and Mason Aguirre.
When the pressure of the importance of these finals (due to them being an Olympic Qualifier and all) and the less than ideal weather sunk in first thing this morning, those thousand or so live spectators were treated to some pretty early-on carnage. Hit after hit, run after run, riders were bailing on their landings. It took standing up an entire run, consistency, and perseverance to make it to the top today. Luckily there weren't too many major injuries.
Let's get back to who won and why. On the men's side of things all eyes were on Shaun, as they almost always are, to take the win. Each rider had two chances to impress the judges. Most riders play it safe on their first run to get a solid score, and then go all out on their second run, but not Shaun. By the time Shaun finished his first run (with his infamous back-to-back double cork 1080's) he had won the entire event with a score of 47.00.
Men's Podium: Zach Black 3rd, Shaun White 1st, and Louie Vito 2nd
That didn't stop anyone from trying to beat him though. It only got more exciting during second run as every rider threw out their best to beat unstoppable White. Louie Vito, who was nipping at White's heels during qualifications yesterday, stood almost 5 points behind White after first run. Vito was the last rider before White to drop, and with no one else coming close to White's first run score, Vito knew he needed something cleaner and bigger for his second run.
Pretty impressive for a dancing hobbit. Rider: Louie Vito (P) Nate Abbot
And that is exactly what he did. Vito's second run was close to flawless, highly technical, and consistently huge.
You could have heard a pin drop as the judges tallied Vito's second run score. Vito and Shaun (and quite possibly everyone in the crowd) held their breath. Shaun stood strapped into his board at the top of the pipe to drop in for his second and final run, waiting to find out if his first run score was enough to take the win.
Vito's second run score was announced as a 45.60, confirming that White had clinched it by a mere 1.40 points. It was one of those "crowd went wild" moments, although it was hard to tell if the crowd was going wild for White winning, or for Vito barely losing to the red-headed wonder.
And with that, White dropped in for a victory run, and he went absolutely huge.
Louie "Twinkle Toes" Vito- Barely missing the win but happy with the results of today's finals. (P) Nate Abbot
It's hard to get noticed with names like Shaun White and Louie Vito taking center stage, but the underdog story of the day goes to third place finisher and local boy Zach Black. With top riders like White, Vito, Scotty Lago, Jack Mitrani and Danny Davis all in the finals and scrambling to get in the 2010 Winter Olympics, being an underdog and finishing third is quite possibly the biggest feat of the day- maybe even more so than back-to-back doubles. The 19 year old Black earned some street cred today by doing two things the judges love to see, keeping it consistent and maximizing altitude, and that earned him a score of 44.10. (He also did a flawless Switch BS 1080, which definitely helped his score.)
With a showing out of Black like today, it's safe to say yet another name has been added to the mix of Olympic Hopefuls for Vancouver.
On the girls side of things it wasn't so clear cut going into the day who was the favored to win. As always though, the major battle was between American's Gretchen Bleiler and Kelly Clark. Bleiler won thursday's finals but it was Clark who stepped it up for the big win today, narrowly knocking Bleiler into second place with a two point lead. For the third place finish it was Japan's Soko Yamaoka who has shown us year after year not to count her out as a threat.
Women's Grand Prix at Copper Podium: 3rd Soko Yamaoka, 1st Kelly Clark, 2nd Gretchen Bleiler
Having a win or a top finish at this first of five Grand Prix's is important for the United States Olympic Halfpipe hopefuls since the Grand Prix series is the major deciding factor for which athletes will represent the U.S.A. in Vancouver this February. There are still four more chances in the series though, so it was not crucial to place high today. Riders like Danny Kass who didn't make it to the Copper Mountain event, or like Scotty Lago, Luke Mitrani and Danny Davis, who didn't even place top 10 here, will all have more time the season to prove their worth and make it onto the exclusive team.
Stay tuned to GrindTV.com and the 2010 U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix Series. With so many talented American riders in the mix this season, these competitions deciding who will be named to the U.S.A. Snowboard Halfpipe Team may be more exciting to follow than the Olympics itself.
Results from the 2009/2010 U.S. Snowboard Copper Grand Prix:
1. Shaun White, Carlsbad, CA, 47.00
2. Louie Vito, Sandy, UT, 45.60
3. Zack Black, Breckenridge, CO, 44.10
4. Fredrik Austbo, Norway, 41.20
5. JJ Thomas, Golden, CO, 41.10
6. Greg Bretz, Mammoth Lakes, CA, 40.00
7. Steve Fisher, Breckenridge, CO, 39.40
8. Tore-V Holvik, Norway, 34.80
9. Ryo Aono, Japan, 34.00
10. Jack Mitrani, Mammoth, CA, 28.80
11. Elijah Teter, USA, 22.1
12. Charles Reid, Canada, 18.8
13. Danny Davis, USA, 18.8
14. Scotty Lago, USA, 16.0
15. Dustin Craven, Canada, 9.0
16. Nathaniel Johnstone, 8.6
1. Kelly Clark, Mt. Snow, VT, 44.50
2. Gretchen Bleiler, Aspen, CO, 42.60
3. Soko Yamaoka, Japan, 40.20
4. Quera Castellet, Spain, 30.50
5. Ellery Hollingsworth, Stratton, VT, 35.80
6. Madeline Schaffrick, Steamboat Springs, Co, 35.50
7. Holly Crawford, Australia, 24.00
8. Clair Bidez, Minturn, CO, 13.60
Five out of eight ain't bad. Yesterday during the first stop of the U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix 50 ladies dropped in to the 22 foot tall Superpipe during two heats of qualifications. At the end of the day only eight will move forward into Saturday's Finals. Five of those eight girls were U.S.A's own sweethearts.
Gretchen Bleiler (1st), Kelly Clark (2nd), Maddy Shaffrick (4th), Ellery Hollingsworth (6th), and Clair Bidez (8th) will go up against three other riders from Spain, Australia and Japan on Saturday's Finals.
This first stop out of five in the U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix Series is an important proving ground for our United States Halfpipe riders. Not only are the five Grand Prix competitions the U.S.'s main determining factor for who will go to Vancouver to represent us in the the 2010 Winter Olympics, but because America's riders are typically "the one's to beat", many other of the top nationally competitive teams travel to the five Grand Prix's to see how they measure up against the American powerhouses.
It's safe to say that the same field of riders you see at the U.S. Grand Prix series will be fairly similiar to the riders we will watch compete against each other in February at the Vancouver Olympics.
Gretchen Bleiler leading the pack came as no surprise. Gretchen's been on the top of her game consistently the past few seasons, and after narrowly missing the gold at Torin's 2006 Olympic's it's obvious that she's hungry for it.
The big surprises of the day were who didn't make it into Saturday's Finals, including the favored to win, Australia's Torah Bright. Torah sat down on both her runs, ending the day in 11th place- not enough to move forward. Another girl missing in the line up was Burton's Hannah Teter, who chose to step back for the day and watch her fellow competitors while she nursed a bruised shoulder injury she sustained during training.
Official Results for Thursday's Qualifiers:
Women who will move into Saturday's Finals
1. Gretchen Bleiler, Aspen, CO, 47.10
2. Kelly Clark, Mt. Snow, VT, 45.70
3. Soko Yamaoka, Japan, 43.50
4. Maddy Schaffrick, Steamboat Springs, CO, 43.20
5. Quera Castellet, Spain, 43.00
6. Ellery Hollindsworth, Stratton, VT, 41.40
7. Holly Crawford, Australia, 41.10
8. Clair Bidez, Minturn, CO, 41.70
Competitive friends Torah Bright and Kelly Clark will not be going head to head in Saturday's Finals.