There are just two more Grand Prix events before the US Olympic team is finalized. The last two events will be held this weekend in Park City, Utah. Only pre-qualified riders will be riding. To be qualified to the event, riders must have earned at least one top sixteen finish for men or top eight finish for women in the previous three Grand Prix events. There is an exception in that the coaches can add up to four men and two women that do not fit the previous criteria.
Shaun White is already confirmed because of two first place finishes. The other men’s first place finisher was Danny Davis, who was recently injured and will not participate in the Olympics. Because of injuries to two Olympic hopefuls (Davis and Kevin Pearce), some are suggesting that Shaun White take it easy this weekend. Then again, Shaun may need to polish up some of his new tricks he’s learned this winter.
If he does take it easy, it may allow other riders an opportunity to score higher and earn a spot on the team. Louie Vito has two 2nd places, JJ Thomas and Zack Black are next in line with a 3rd and 5th, followed by Scotty Lago with a 3rd and 7th, and Luke Mitrani with one 4th place finish. Danny Davis and Mason Aguirre’s names both appeared on the start list, but Mason is out with a busted shoulder a Danny with a very unfortunate back injury. Kevin Pearce, as we all know, is slowly recovering from his head injury and we continue to send him well wishes.
One intriguing rider on the list, and a coach added rider, is Danny Kass, the 2006 Olympic Silver medalist. He has been battling an ankle/foot injury suffered earlier in the winter, but has since recovered from it. Last weekend was his first competition and he placed 17th and 18th at Mammoth’s Grand Prix stop. U.S. Snowboarding Halfpipe Head Coach Mike Jankowski said, “He isn’t a wild card in there, he’s a top ranked rider, and I’m not just talking about his silver medal. He won the US Open pipe last winter, got injured, and now he’s all healed up. You never know what can happen with Dan.”
For women in order of current ranking Kelly Clark has two first place finishes and is in. Gretchen Bleiler has a 1st and 2nd, Hannah Teter follows with a 2nd and 3rd, then Elena Hight with a 2nd and 5th, and Ellery Hollingsworth with two 5th place finishes.
After the Saturday night finals, part of the US Olympic pipe team—three men and three women—will be announced. The remaining riders will be announced on January 25.
List of halfpipe riders for the final Grand Prix at Park City Utah
For a schedule of the weekend events, click here.
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