Third Olympic Qualifier in Oregon
With a flu epidemic affecting many of the halfpipe competitors, combined with some of the most random snowboarding conditions possible, a third of the five Chevy Grand Prix Olympic halfpipe qualifiers started out as a total disaster. This major event gave several athletes the opportunity to get closer to their dreams of making the US halfpipe team and the opportunity to compete in Torino Italy for the 2006 Olympic games. With all of the outside factors affecting the competing athletes, it was critical for everyone to dig deep and focus only on their snowboarding.
Oakley’s Shaun White (eyewear), Gretchen Bleiler (HTT), and Elena Hight (eyewear) did just that. With Shaun and Gretchen being two of the only competitors to avoid the flu during the qualifying round, both rode incredibly strong and took first place runs going into the next days finals. Elena Hight wasn’t as fortunate and fought hard with the flu, however, despite nausea; she was able to take second place going into finals.
Both Shaun and Gretchen were sitting in great positions moving into finals, however, the weather took a turn for the worst and the finals were pushed back to Sunday. The weather was much more manageable on Sunday, but the flu had claimed two more victims; Shaun and Gretchen. Feeling both cold and sick, Shaun and Gretchen proved why they should be the next US Olympians.
Despite major stomach pains, Shaun threw down an amazing run and put the nail in the coffin when he stomped a backside 1080 as his last trick. Shaun’s halfpipe runs are improving at every contest. He has held a level of unpredictability which has caught everyone off guard, and at Mt Bachelor, this unpredictability claimed him another first place finish.
The flu wasn’t enough to overcome Gretchen’s drive either, and after a solid and smooth first run, she was sitting in the first place position. Since the US team takes each athletes’ top two results out of the five qualifying events, the only way to guarantee a spot is to have two first place finishes. Having taken a first and a second place in the first two Olympic qualifiers two weeks prior to this event, Gretchen was “statistically” on the US team, however, the only way for her to guarantee her spot was to take another first place; and that’s exactly what she did. Her victory lap was now for taking first place and officially making the US Olympic halfpipe team.
Congratulations Gretchen and Shaun!
Men’s Halfpipe Results: (Oakley Athletes in Red)
- 1st Shaun White
- 2nd Mason Aguire
- 3rd Danny Davis
Women’s Halfpipe Results: (Oakley Athletes in Red)
- 1st Gretchen Bleiler
- 2nd Hannah Tetter
- 3rd Elena Hight