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Kelly Clark Wins First Olympic Qualifier

Kelly Clark has won the first Olympic qualifier competition, taking home first in the New Zealand World Cup Sunday, August 26. France’s Sophie Rodriguez came in second, while Spain’s Queralt Castellet trailed for third. liver Kraus)

“With my win and Hannah’s [Teter, fourth] good finish, this is a great start to the season for the U.S.,” says Clark. “Falling in the first run is never ideal but I tried to look at it as an opportunity. That’s exactly what can happen in major events. So it’s good to get used to it and this kind of pressure.”

Here’s some highlights from Sunday:

Kelly Clark takes the win at the New Zealand World Cup and start of the Olympic qualifier with France's Sophie Rodriguez (left) in second and Spain's Queralt Castellet in third (right). (FIS/Oliver Kraus)
Kelly Clark takes the win at the New Zealand World Cup and start of the Olympic qualifier with France's Sophie Rodriguez (left) in second and Spain's Queralt Castellet in third (right). (FIS/Oliver Kraus)

WANAKA, New Zealand (Aug. 26) – Olympic gold medalist Kelly Clark (West Dover, VT) opened the 2014 Olympic Winter Games qualifying period for snowboarding with victory at the FIS World Cup halfpipe Sunday in Cardrona, New Zealand. Clark, who won double gold at the 2012 X Games, has won a staggering 19 of her last 20 contests. The New Zealand halfpipe marks the first event of the Olympic qualifying period that lasts for the next 17 months.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Kelly Clark (West Dover, VT) won the opening FIS World Cup of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games qualifying period.

• Clark fell in her opening run, but stomped a winning run of 83 points for a 2.25 point margin of victory.

• U.S. Snowboarding riders placed three men and three women in the top 15.

• Hannah Teter (Belmont, VT) took fourth, with Matt Ladley (Chicago, IL) as the top American male also in fourth.

• Scotty Lago (Seabrook, NH) was sixth, Kaitlyn Farrington (Bellevue, WA) took eighth and Benji Farrow took 14th.

• The 17-month qualifying period provides individual athletes with opportunity to achieve required international ranking to be eligible for Olympic selection and helps the USA earn nation’s quota spots.

• Clark secured her 10th World Cup podium out of 12 starts and her 19th victory of her last 20 elite competitions.

• Clark's winning run: frontside 720 indy, cab 720 mute-grab, frontside air, backside 540 mute-grab, to frontside 540 Japan-grab.

• France's Sophie Rodriguez was second behind Clark and Spain's Queralt Castellet came in third. Japan swept the men’s podium with Ryo Aono in first followed by Shuuhei Sato and Yiwei Zhang.