U.S. Riders Dominate Toyota Grand Prix
COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. (Dec. 9, 2017) – American athletes dominated Copper’s Main Vein halfpipe in Saturday’s Toyota U.S. Grand Prix Olympic qualifying event, claiming five of the six available podium spots. Chloe Kim (Torrance, Calif.), Maddie Mastro (Wrightwood, Calif.) and Kelly Clark (West Dover, Vt.) swept the women’s podium while Ben Ferguson (Bend, Ore.) and Shaun White (Carlsbad, Calif.) put down some massive runs to land in second and third.
Kim was on top of her game straight out of the gate, landing an immaculate frontside 1080 tailgrab in her first run to help her score a 93.75 that carried her through the rest of the day.
“I’m totally speechless,” said Kim. “I woke up this morning and I was nervous, but the halfpipe kind of makes me feel at home and all the nerves go away when I’m dropping in and I’m just excited to try new stuff. It’s always awesome to get a U.S. podium sweep. I think it’s so rad that we were all able to put down very solid runs.”
17-year-old Mastro was the top rider from Thursday’s qualifying rounds and went big again in finals, progressing up to a 90.75 on her last run to claim her fourth career World Cup podium.
“My strategy was to just put down a run and have fun with it,” said Mastro. "I progressed through the practice and through the contest and I’m happy with what I got. I’m super excited with how everyone’s riding this winter. It’s going to be interesting to see where we’re gonna go throughout the winter and what it’s going to take to make the Olympic team.”
While Kim and Mastro are looking to make their first Olympic team, Clark, who has three Olympic medals under her belt, is one step closer to attending her fifth Games after a solid third place finish.
“Olympic years, we always see a big jump in the progression of the riding and the level of the riding, so I’m not surprised to see how great all the ladies were riding today,” said Clark. “It’s one run at a time, one contest at time, but I’m real happy to get a podium and start to accumulate those points that I need to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team.”
Ferguson stepped it up against a strong international field to land his first World Cup podium since 2014, edging out White by just .5 points. White broke out a frontside 1440 stalefish in his final run, but it wasn’t enough to surpass the clean landings Ferguson put down. Japan’s Ayumu Hirano rightfully claimed the top spot, going huge with a frontside 1440 indy and a frontside 1260 indy in his arsenal to post a high score of 95.25.
“I’m feeling pretty great,” said White. “Obviously I wanted to post a better score for the Americans. I was putting in my first kind of easier runs to just put in a great score, lock it in and that allowed me to then go for my second and third run a little harder.”
“Today was a crazy contest,” said Ferguson. “I’m just stoked I landed some stuff - it feels good for sure.”
Olympic qualifying competition continues next week in Breckenridge at the Dew Tour, Dec. 14-17.