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US women on top of the world

The US women won first second and third podium finishes at the FIS World Cup halfpipe snowboarding competition held in Italy over the weekend. Thanks to for bringing us this story.

The women of U.S. Snowboarding swept the podium of a World Cup halfpipe contest in Italy on Saturday with Kelly Clark (Mt. Snow, VT) in first, Hannah Teter (Belmont, VT) in second and Gretchen Bleiler (Aspen, CO) in third.

“For me personally it’s a good feeling to win where I was defeated three years ago,” Clark said. “Hannah was riding very strong but I just did my run as I wanted it. I’m glad that I won this great event and that the U.S. took one, two and three.”

Clark last competed in Bardonecchia when she placed fourth trying to defend her Olympic gold medal during the 2006 Games in Torino. Now, while it’s not the Olympics, Clark feels redemption.

“When we talked to her after the podium she said, ‘I got my rebate from Bardonecchia,’ because in 2006 she wanted more than anything to be standing on top of that podium,” U.S. Snowboarding Halfpipe Head Coach Mike Jankowski said. “While it’s not an Olympic medal, it’s a hard-fought win for Kelly.”

Clark put together a frontside air, backside 5, frontside 7, cab 7 and frontside 5 for the win at the former Olympic venue, which had challenging conditions due to record snowfall.

“Bardonecchia has the most snow they’ve had in about 50 years and we got here and the pipe was challenging. We had just come from some great competitions and we showed up to a smaller pipe and challenging conditions,” Jankowski said. “We knew there was only one way to go and that was up. So, we said every day it’s going to get better. We pushed our way through semi finals and got our way through to finals.”

In all, Jankowski was very pleased with how the women swept the podium.

The ladies had an absolutely stellar day. I think, obviously, things really went our way,” Jankowski said. “The pipe was in great shape today. I think there were some memories from 2006 going through some of the ladies’ heads and they were able to dig deep, be themselves and they were able to come out on top.”

In the men’s field, it was France’s Mathieu Crepel who earned the best score with 47.0 points, winning today’s World Cup ahead of second ranked Nathan Johnstone (43.5) from Australia and Swiss rider Iouri Podladtchikov (42.8).

Crepel missed the 2006 Olympic finals by placing 17th, although “this dates way back. But I have learned what I had to learn from this. Today, it was a new contest.”

The 24-year old impressed in the second run of the finals with a brilliant finish. Crepel started with a Frontside 1080 into a Cab 1080, followed by a Frontside Air as well as a Backside 540, just to finish his run with a Frontside 1260 as smooth as his other tricks.

“After the other riders had attacked in run two I had to step it up, too. And I did it. I’m super stoked. I wanted to give my best, especially as all the fans had cheered so much.”

Steve Fisher (Breckenridge, CO), who was first in qualifications Friday, finished seventh for the best result from the U.S. men.

According to Jankowski, getting in some competition time against an international field can only benefit the men.

“The international field is super strong right now and it’s good for us to get out there and ride against those best riders in the world,” Jankowski said.

Now, the riders move to Cypress Mountain just outside of Vancouver where they will compete in a World Cup at the 2010 Olympic venue. But, the fact that a year from now they will be competing on the world’s stage at Cypress doesn’t phase the athletes.

“We just take it one pipe at a time and we’re definitely not getting ahead of ourselves,” Jankowski said. “As long as the pipe is in good shape, whether it’s a Revolution Tour, a Grand Prix or the Olympics, we go there to win and I expect our athletes to push hard for the win.”

Bardonecchia, Italy – Feb. 7, 2009

1. Mathieu Crepel, France, 47.0
2. Nathan Johnstone, Austria, 43.5
3. Iouri Podladtchikov, Switzerland, 42.8
4. Christian Haller, Switzerland, 42.5
5. Rolf Feldmann, Switzerland, 40.6

1. Kelly Clark, Mt. Snow, VT, 45.1
2. Hannah Teter, Belmont, VT, 43.2
3. Gretchen Bleiler, Aspen, CO, 39.4
4. Holly Crawford, Australia, 36.3
5. Kjersti Buaas, Norway, 34.9

The action below comes from GerryPallor at the US halfpipe 2007 Burton snowboarding championships which shows Shaun White winning the competition and he explains how he attracted the nickname ‘animal’ , and it also shows the winner of the women’s event – none other than the gorgeous Kelly Clark who won again and also the equally lovely Gretchen Bleiler in very close attendance.

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