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Clark wins superpipe

John Maletz
The Aspen Times
WX10 WSP Clark, K KS 1-28
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So much for the women’s superpipe finals lacking marquee names.

In the absense of fellow Olympic teammates Gretchen Bleiler and Hannah Teter, 2002 Olympic gold medalist Kelly Clark shined in primetime. Clark, a Mount Snow, Vt. native, laid down a flawless first run, posted a score of 93.33, and laughed all the way to gold.

Three 2006 Olympians made the podium. Olympians Torah Bright of Australia and Soko Yamaoka of Japan finished second and third, respectively.

“I’ve been battling injuries, so I did question whether I should enter the competition or no,” Clark said. “But I’m glad I did, because I ended up on top.”

Clark, hampered by pulled ligaments and muscles in her right elbow ” an injury sustained during a Grand Prix in Breckenridge in December, justified her decision to stay to enter the contest. Clark, the top qualifier, bested her nearest competitor by 3.33 points.

The 22-year-old did not hold back. Fresh snow that fell throughout the competition to little to hamper her amplitude as Clark flew 16-feet out of the pipe on her first hit of the night. Her first run included three clean 540s, a method air and a 720.

She sat back and watched as nine other competitors tried unsuccessfully to match her score, taking a victory lap for good measure.

In 2002, Clark parlayed the momentum gained from her halfpipe gold in Winter X Games Six into a gold medal winning performance in the Salt Lake City Olympics.

Minturn’s Clair Bidez finished one spot off the podium in her second Games. The 18-year-old landed her first ever 900 ” the only one attempted in the competition.

Bleiler’s bid for a superpipe gold two-peat ended a bit earlier than anyone expected when she pulled out of the competition. The Snowmass Village resident released a statement saying that, “as much as I love the X Games and riding in my hometown of Aspen, I want to be sure that I am 100 percent going into Torino.”

Teter, the 2004 superpipe gold medalist and X Games Nine bronze medalist, echoed Bleiler’s sentiments, saying in a statement that she wanted to be prepared for February’s Olympics “both mentally and physically.”

“It’s always really fun with Hannah and Gretchen, they always push my riding,” Clark said.

Last year’s silver medalist, Doriane Vidal, of Rivesaltes, France, failed to qualify for the final round.

Aspen, Colorado


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