On a chilly day at Copper Mountain, Gretchen Bleiler grabbed the top spot in the women’s qualifiers. She’ll head into the final on Saturday hoping to help secure an Olympic spot with a repeat performance. Bleiler was given stiff competition by Kelly Clark, who qualified second and is looking for her 3rd trip to the Olympics.
"It was great to come out this morning and have qualifiers. The weather cooperated and it got a little bit warmer for us," Clark said. "To come out and land my first run of the season at the first event is a great way to start my year and I am looking forward to finals on Saturday."
Soko Yamaka of Japan took the third qualifying spot, and young Maddy Schaffrick suprised the field coming in fourth.
"I’m really excited – I’m practically speechless. This has been a really fun beginning of the winter and I can’t wait to continue it," Shaffrick said.
Reigning Olympic champ Hannah Teter pulled out of the competition after injuring her shoulder during practice.
The men’s and women’s finals will take place on Saturday at Copper Mountain. This is one of the qualifying events for riders to earn a spot on the US Olympic team.
2010 U.S. SNOWBOARDING GRAND PRIX
Copper Mountain, CO – Dec. 10
Women’s Halfpipe Qualifications
1. Gretchen Bleiler, Aspen, CO, 47.10
2. Kelly Clark, Mt. Snow, VT, 45.70
3. Soko Yamaoka, Japan, 43.50
4. Maddy Schaffrick, Steamboat Springs, CO, 43.20
5. Quera Castellet, Spain, 43.00
6. Ellery Hollindsworth, Stratton, VT, 41.40
7. Holly Crawford, Australia, 41.10
8. Clair Bidez, Minturn, CO, 41.70