Two-time gold medalist Shaun White landed his highly anticipated Cab double cork 1440 for the first time ever in a contest Friday, during Qualifier No. 4 of the Sprint U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix, held at Mammoth Mountain, California. White’s spot on the U.S. halfpipe team remains unsecured, as he opted to sit out the morning qualifier No. 3 in preparation for the second event of the day; his strategy paid off with the successful debut of his new trick and a first-place finish.
Even with his place on the U.S. Olympic snowboard slopestyle team nailed down Thursday, White still has work to do to earn the right to qualify for the Sochi pipe. Colorado's Taylor Gold—whose second- and third-place finishes Friday cemented his own berth—and Mammoth local Greg Bretz tie White in the ranking list—all three riders' best results being a first and second place. Also, soul shredder Danny Davis joined the first-place club in Qualifier No. 3, prior to White's win, gaining him another 1,000 points in the standings. His aim, however, is not necessarily to earn an Olympic berth.
"I'm not snowboarding to go to the Olympics this year," Davis explained to GrindTV Friday. "I've had a rough four years of getting hurt, and this year was just about getting better at snowboarding again … I'm getting there."
With a mix of young guns like Ben Ferguson and heavy-hitting favorites like Scotty Lago and Matt Ladley all stepping up as the Sunday final nears, those last few spots on the pipe team are anyone's game.
On the women's side, only Kelly Clark, who has won nearly every event this season, is a shoo-in for Sochi. Taylor Gold's kid sister, Arielle, currently sits in the number-two spot, but neither of her results from today's qualifiers—an eighth, then a fourth—bettered her odds. Two-time Olympic medalist Hannah Teter has been struggling for much of the season to make finals, never mind the podium, but after learning backside 900s two days ago in practice, a "game on" Teter showed up today Olympics-ready, placing her nicely on the podium in both events with a pair of third places.
Chloe Kim, the 13-year-old phenom who is too young to compete at Sochi, continued to chase down Clark, nabbing second place in both qualifiers.
The last qualifier for the U.S. Olympic snowboard slopestyle team will kick off Saturday at Mammoth at 2 p.m. EST. The fifth and final halfpipe event will be held Sunday at 3 p.m. EST. Check www.ussnowboarding.com for live streaming and TV schedules.
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