Shaun Takes 1st & GB Scores 2nd at US Grand Prix
The best superpipe snowboarders in the worlds were all at Copper Mountain, Colorado this week, for the first of five US Grand Prix events. With several national snowboard teams using this series as their Olympic team qualifiers, the pressure was on everyone in the superpipe today. With several new tricks being unveiled this summer in New Zealand including double cork 1080’s and 1260’s. The bar has been raised so high, that to win an event this season you need to land every trick perfect. And include at least one of the new double cork tricks. Not an easy task by any means.
Qualifying rounds narrowed down the field down to 16 men and 8 women with each rider receiving 2 runs and being judged completely on overall impression. So there was no room for error in the pipe today. And only the cleanest and most technical runs would put them on the podium.
For the women’s final the best 8 riders were dropping in with light snow showers and sunlight coming in and out of the clouds. And there was no question that women’s snowboarding has progressed this past year. With new tricks being landed including a crippler 720 by Gretchen Bleiler, and a Cab 900 by Ellery Hollingsworth. The level of riding was improving every run.
Oakley riders Bleiler, and Castellet landed their best runs on the first try. And Bleiler was able to land her 2nd run cleanly after falling in her first attempt.
The men’s finals started in reverse order of the qualifying scores. And Oakley’s Shaun White, Greg Bretz, JJ Thomas, Dustin Craven, and Charles Reid were all amped and ready to throw down their runs in front of 3,000 spectators. Also a young Colorado native Zach Black was in the mix. His coach Bud Keene noticed earlier in the week his other goggles were trashed and upgraded his vision to a pair of Oakley Splice goggles. And he used them to his advantage with the variable light conditions with the off and on snow showers.
First run scores were huge and most riders set down their best right out of the gate. Shaun White scored a massive 47 points and immediately put himself in the lead of the pack. His run included a huge lien air to backside 900 to frontside double cork 1080 to switch double cork 1080 to frontside 1080 and on down the pipe. White was not messing around, and the scores showed it.
JJ Thomas was on point as well and used back-to-back 1080 combo’s with precision to place him in the top 5 after his first run. Mammoth’s Greg Bretz showed the crowd what the up and coming riders are all about. Huge airs and technical spins with style that makes you wonder how he learned all those tricks so quickly. Bretz has a good first run but needed to step it up in the 2nd if he wanted to contend. And he did just that, besting his first run by 4 points. For his final run Shaun White knew he had already won the contest as the lat score was tallied. And enjoyed a very emotional victory run down the superpipe.
Shaun White had this to say after winning the first US Grand Prix. “The level of riding is getting heavy and all the athletes are stepping up with new tricks. Copper put on a great event and I’m happy to come out on top.”
“This week was amazing for Oakley Snowboarding, and our team rode incredible throughout the qualifiers and into the finals. With the light conditions changing from day to day, we keep the team in the right goggle lenses.” Said Oakley’ Global Snowboard Sports Marketing Manager Matty Swanson. “In the end our riders were on the podium, and in the lead for their prospective national team selections for the Vancouver Winter Olympics.”
1. Shaun White 47.00 (Oakley Signature Series A Frame Goggle)
2. Louie Vito 45.60
3. Zach Black 44.10 ( Oakley Splice Goggle)
4. Frederik Austbo 41.20
5. JJ Thomas 41.10 (Oakley Crowbar Goggle)
6. Gregory Bretz 40.00 (Oakley Crowbar Goggle)