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Kaitlyn Farrington wins surprise gold in Sochi

Kaitlyn Farrington build lots of momentum over the course of her six runs throughout the day Wednesday, culminating in her first-ever Olympic gold. Photo by Chris Wellhausen/TransWorld Snowboarding
Kaitlyn Farrington built lots of momentum over the course of her six runs throughout the day Wednesday, culminating in her first-ever Olympic gold. Photo by Chris Wellhausen/TransWorld Snowboarding

What looked to be a gold-medal battle between three former Olympic gold medalists turned out to be yet another surprise in Sochi. Torah Bright (AUS), Kelly Clark (USA), and Hannah Teter (USA) all were looking good to add another gold medal to their collections, but the night belonged to Olympic rookie Kaitlyn Farrington. A long shot to make the U.S. Team and a longer shot for Olympic gold, Farrington, 24, put together a technical combination of tricks, including a switch backside 720 to backside 900 combo, to snatch her first Olympic gold medal.

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Similar to Tuesday night's men's winner, Iouri Podladtchikov, Farrington didn't get the easy bye into finals, having to compete in qualifiers and semifinals to earn her chance at gold. Also in similar fashion, each and every run from Farrington over the course of the day was an improvement over the last, building momentum all the way to the top of the podium.

[RELATED: Get a glimpse of Farrington’s natural charisma in this interview.]

In women's snowboarding, victories are celebrated equally among friends. L to R: Silver medalist Torah Bright (AUS), gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington (USA), and bronze medalist Kelly Clark (USA). Photo by Chris Wellhausen/TransWorld Snowboarding
In women’s snowboarding, victories are celebrated equally among friends. L to R: Silver medalist Torah Bright (AUS), gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington (USA), and bronze medalist Kelly Clark (USA). Photo by Chris Wellhausen/TransWorld Snowboarding

But just barely, with only 1.25 points separating first and fourth place, which went to Teter.

Defending 2010 Olympic gold medalist Bright settled for silver after falling on her first run and putting together a clutch second attempt that included her famously huge air-to-fakie to Cab 720 combo. This is Bright's second of three events at this year's Olympics and her first medal of the Games. The most winningest halfpipe rider in history, Clark, also was put in a do-or-die situation after having an uncanny fall on her first run. She managed to squeak out a bronze-medal finish after having a slight bobble on her Cab 720, dropping in under the most pressure with the very last run of the event. Two-time Olympic medalist (gold in 2006, silver in 2010) Teter put down a solid run but landed just shy of the podium this time around.

Torah Bright
Torah Bright’s huge inverted tricks helped land her back on the Olympic podium. Photo by Chris Wellhausen/TransWorld Snowboarding

Noticeably missing from finals was reigning FIS World Champion and fourth member of the U.S. Team, Arielle Gold, who suffered a shoulder injury in practice that forced her to withdraw from today's event. Arielle and her brother, Taylor, who both were medal hopefuls, will be looking for a rebate come South Korea 2018.

WOMEN’S SNOWBOARD HALFPIPE FINAL RESULTS
1. Kaitlyn Farrington (USA)
2. Torah Bright (AUS)
3. Kelly Clark (USA)
4. Hannah Teter (USA)
5. Rana Okada (JPN)
6. Xuetong Cai (CHN)
7. Sophie Rodriguez (FRA)
8. Shuang Li (CHN)
9. Jiayu Liu (CHN)
10. Mirabelle Thovex (FRA)
11. Queralt Castellet (ESP)
12. Ursina Haller (SUI)

More Winter Olympics stories on GrindTV
Kaitlyn Farrington's road to gold in Sochi began with cows
Why I cried for Shaun White
Repeat gold medal up for grabs in women's snowboard halfpipe
Five must-have tricks in women's snowboard halfpipe
Going with the Golds
Can Team USA win a medal each day in Sochi?
Torah Bright's road to Sochi rocky, but redemptive
Kelly Clark often mistaken for 'American Idol'
Shaun White misses podium in men's snowboard halfpipe final
Taylor Gold misses shot at men's halfpipe final
Iouri Podladtchikov stiff competition for Shaun White
USA's Devin Logan secures Sochi silver
Meet Japanese wunderkind Ayumu Hirano