USSA results round-up: snowboard
The2013 iON Mountain Championships have come to a close, but the race for American athletes on a quest to garner the most USSA points possible has just begun. Since Dew Tour marked the first of five USSA-sanctioned events we now have the most true, up-to-date insight as to which athletes we can expect to represent Team USA during the 2014 Sochi Games. Additionally, we now have a few new blips on the radar of athletes that may not have been assumed to have a spot.
Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle
The first snowboard final of the week’s events was the Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle Final where there was little surprise when Jamie Anderson reasserted her dominance of the discipline. Anderson has long been recognized as the best in her space and on the American side there is little to no contest for her. Anderson, as expected, rode out of the weekend with 1000 USSA points.
Two relatively unknown American pipe riders, Jessika Jenson and Jordie Karlinski found their way up high in the USSA rankings. Jenson may not be the most familiar face on top of podiums, but the 22-year-old has found her way to every Open event around and has been on the U.S. team for two years. Similarly, Karlinski has been on the U.S. team for two years and is on the rise. Jenson earned 800 points while Karlinski scored 600.
The 4th place woman in slope was the 17-year-old Ty Walker who is most definitely one to keep an eye on. Walker dominated the junior circuit and now that she is on her way with the professionals, there are surely some shaking in their snowboard boots.
Finally, Serena Shaw should be on your radar. Even though she landed in 5th for the USSA rankings, Shaw should be known, if for nothing else, for the fact she is going for both slopestyle and halfpipe. With 450 points in slope and 290 in pipe, Shaw is sure to keep at it and she just may find her way Sochi.
Current USSA Standings
1. Jamie Anderson, 1000 points
2. Jessika Jensson, 800 points
3. Jordie Karlinski, 600 points
4. Ty Walker, 500 points
5. Serena Shaw, 450 points
Men’s Snowboard Halfpipe
What has become the largest story of the week’s events is the new king of superpipe. Despite his history of pure dominance over his competition in the pipe, Shaun White was not the rider we saw ride out with the win. Instead, Greg Bretz made heads spin when he stomped his run in the pipe and took home the 1st place spot and the coveted 1,000 USSA points.
Regardless of first place, White still locked in 800 points with his second place finish in the pipe, which leaves him in fine contention to make the Olympicsfor the third consecutive time.
Another big story of this weekend’s events is the unfolding family affair in the pipe of the Gold siblings. Directly following the Men’s Snowboard Superpipe Final where one Taylor Gold came in 3rd place and earned 600 points was the Women’s Snowboard Superpipe Final where his younger sister, Arielle, earned 4th but still 600 points of her own as the third American.
A few other names to keep in mind are two-time Olympian Louie Vito who earned 4th this week, which makes him now eligible if he continues to earn points. Another name is Danny Davis who made his return to competition following a two-year hiatus. Davis still needs to earn a 4th place overall finish as well as enough points to knock out another. Finally, Olympic Bronze medalist Scotty Lago landed lower than most anticipated. Lago landed down in eighth in the USSA rankings, which means he has some serious ground to cover if he wishes to return to the Games.
Current USSA Standings
1. Greg Bretz, 1000 points
2. Shaun White, 800 points
3. Taylor Gold, 600 points
4. Louie Vito, 500 points
5. Danny Davis, 450 points
Women’s Snowboard Halfpipe
Although Kelly Clark finished second in Saturday's superpipe contest, she maintained her status as the U.S. team's top rider. As the highest-placing American in the competition, the Vermont native earned the full 1,000 USSA points.
Clark looks like a safe bet to qualify for Sochi, but there's a lot of uncertainty behind her, especially surrounding the rest of the "Fantastic Four" that have all been to two consecutive Olympics - Gretchen Bleiler, Hannah Teter and Elena Hight. The upstart Arielle Gold, last season's USASA halfpipe champion, has been pegged as one of the girls most likely to take one of those spots away and delivered on those expectations with a 4th place finish in Breckenridge. Because 13-year-old Chloe Kim is too young to qualify for the Olympics this year, Gold is sitting second in points among Sochi-eligible riders. It was a good weekend all around for the Gold family, as her brother Taylor leaves Breckenridge sitting 3rd in points on the men's side.
Currently separated by just 200 points after one event, it looks like Gold, Kaitlyn Farrington, Bleiler and Hight could be locked into a tight battle over the remaining USSA selection events. Farrington has been a little under the radar thus far, but with back-to-back 900s in her arsenal, she deserves to be in the conversation for one of the roster spots.
While Bleiler and Hight are still firmly in the mix, this week represents a setback for Teter in her quest to make a third straight Olympic appearance. Failing to make the final, Teter finds herself back in 10th place heading into the next selection event at Copper. The gap in points isn't so substantial that she can't make it up quickly, but the question becomes whether this week's performance will be an anomaly or a trend this year.
Current USSA Standings
1. Kelly Clark, 1000 points
2. Chloe Kim, 800 points
3. Arielle Gold, 600 points
4. Kaitlyn Farrington, 500 points
5. Gretchen Bleiler, 450 points
Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle
The snowboard slopestyle final was the low point of the weekend for the U.S. team. Not only was this the only event - snowboarding or freeskiing - in which a U.S. rider did not place inside the top two, you have to go all the way down to 5th in the results to find the first American.
After the top four finishers, the rest of the top ten was made up of U.S. riders, with two of the heavy favorites Chas Guldemond and Sage Kotsenburg leading the way. The gap in points awarded between the top two and the rest of the field is significant, putting them both in the driver's seat to qualify for Sochi if they can continue to string together solid finishes.
Breckenridge local Eric Willett, another favorite for the U.S. Olympic team, was unable to put a full run together and finished as just the 5th-highest-placing American. While Willett should be able to bounce back, the door is being left open for the likes of 18-year-old Brandon Davis and 23-year-old Spencer Link, both of whom will leave the first selection event ahead of Willett in the standings.
The curveball of the day was Shaun White pulling out of the slopestyle final after suffering an ankle sprain in Saturday's superpipe final. It was by no means a lost weekend for White, who is looking to qualify for both disciplines, though. By virtue of just making the slopestyle final, in which only seven other riders were American, White finishes the weekend 8th among U.S. Olympic team hopefuls, earning him 320 USSA points.
For whoever ends up making the team for Sochi, it's clear that their biggest challenge will come from up North. Canadians took three of the top four spots in the slopestyle final, with Mark McMorris in particular showing that he's still far and away the man to beat in slopestyle this season.
Current USSA Standings
1. Chas Guldemond, 1000 points
2. Sage Kotsenburg, 800 points
3. Brandon Davis, 600 points
4. Spencer Link, 500 points
5. Eric Willett, 450 points
Best of Sochi