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Bleiler shines in Oregon

Aspen Times Staff

The face of the 2006 U.S. Snowboard Olympic team is taking shape and distinctly resembles riders Gretchen Bleiler and Shaun White.

Bleiler, of Snowmass Village, won her second Chevrolet U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix halfpipe contest Sunday at Mount Bachelor, Ore. ” the second of three stops on the tour, which functions as an Olympic qualifier ” scoring 42.5. White completed his Grand Prix hat trick with a score of 45.3.

Rounding out the women’s podium was Hannah Teter, adding a second place finish to her win in Breckenridge, and Elena Hight, who now has three straight podium finishes.

On the men’s side, Mason Aguirre finished second for the third-straight Grand Prix contest, while Danny Davis posted his second third place finish in a row.

“I learn more every contest, I see what everyone else is doing, and that helps a lot,” White said. “It’s kind of hard to see up there. It’s really hard because I had to take my best run and tone it back a bit because of the weather. I think that’s what hindered a lot of people. The weather was holding them back from doing their tricks. But at a comp like this, you have to see who can ride the best in these type of conditions.”

High wind and heavy snow Saturday forced race officials to postpone the halfpipe finals. The layoff did not affect White, who delivered a performance comparable to the one that wowed crowds in Breckenridge. His run consisted of a huge straight air into a backside 9, frontside 720, cab 1080 complete with nosegrab, frontside 9 and a McTwist.

Bleiler woke up Sunday with the same stomach flu that had been sweeping the field. Aguirre was so ill Saturday that he made a trip to the hospital to get rehydrated, while Teter also was sidelined in the days before the contest. It didn’t seem to hinder Bleiler’s winning run, which featured her signature crippler, followed by a backside 540, frontside 540, backside air and ended with a frontside 720.

“Last Olympics I had good results, but it ended up coming down to a triple tiebreaker,” she said. “I was still thinking I hadn’t gotten it [her place on the Olympic team] yet. Then, considering what I woke up with this morning, I really had to give it everything I had [and] struggle through. I think that may be what got me through, because I did have to work so hard for it.”

Based on Sunday’s results, candidates for Olympic team considerations, which include the top 20 men and 10 women, were determined. Halfpipe riders will be named to the team based on the best two results from the five Grand Prix halfpipe contests. The U.S. Snowboard Olympic Team will be announced Jan. 21 following two more halfpipe contests at the final Chevrolet U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix in Mountain Creek, N.J.


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