Sochi 2014 - Women's Halfpipe Qualifiers Report - Kelly Clark and Torah Bright straight through to finals

ROUGH PIPE CAUSING DIFFICULT FOR THE GIRLS

Heat 1

Once again the state of the halfpipe came under fire; it was ten degrees celcius at the start of the competition today so any work done overnight to save it was carved out almost immediately. The men yesterday just managed to deal with the problems, but many of the women looked like they lacked the core strength to overcome the bumps, ruts and slush.

The Olympic halfpipe, good effort Sochi
The Olympic halfpipe, good effort Sochi

Not Kelly Clark though; she took the win and will go straight through to the final, but she faced fierce competition from the Spanish underdog Queralt Castellet. Kelly’s first run score of 92.25 was just topped by a point, but never one to take anything but a victory she threw down a frontside 1080 in her second run and upped her score to 95.00. She’s looking good for the finals.

Kelly Clark took the win today, did anyone see that coming?
Kelly Clark took the win today, did anyone see that coming?

Queralt will definitey join her there – she came in second with a slick run including bac-to-back 7s and a 900 – then Sophie Rodriguez from France rounded out the top three.

Queralt Castello looking like Clark's main rival so far
Queralt Castello is looking like Clark’s main rival so far

Ursina Haller and Sarka Pancochova both made it through to the semis, along with the two Chinese riders from this heat, Li Shuang and Sun Zihfeng. Thank god Shark Attack came out of her fall from the slopestyle finals unscathed as she was able to put down some of the more entertaining runs of the day so far, this alley-oop handplant scoring highly in the Whitelines war room.

Can we rename the alley-oop handplant the Shark plant? Sarka Pancochova with a beauty.
Can we rename the alley-oop handplant the Shark plant? Sarka Pancochova with a beauty.

The other best moment for us also came from Sarka, check out this method! Her experience placed her in a better position than most to make full use of this terrible, terrible pipe that reduced most of the rest of the competition to pretty miserable straight airs and low amplitude 540s. Interestingly though no one really seems to be speaking out about it now, instead choosing to knuckle down and get on with it.

Sarka's method. Wow.
Sarka’s method. Wow.

So apart from a wacky hair do from one of the Aussies…

Stephanie Magiros, a feather in her cap after making the semis this morning.
Stephanie Magiros, a feather in her cap after making the semis this morning.

…that was that, but bring on heat 2! And if you want to see what the pipe will look like by the end of the day, check out this video of a GoPro getting dropped out of a plane and eaten by a pig.

Heat 2

Torah Bright qualifies in first, of course
Torah goes Bright to the finals

Torah Bright never looked in any doubt that she was going to let this one slip out of her grasp, locking down her top spot with a first run that looked solid top to bottom. Wide smiles the whole way down, she tweaked out all her spins, including back-to-back alley-oops, the only woman to do so. In classic Torah style we were treated to a bunch of slashes on the way down to the bottom on her second run. Yeah Bright!

Bright looked to be in a league of her own today
Bright looked to be in a league of her own today

Claiming the second automatic finals spot was the other America and 2006 Olympic gold medallist Hannah Teter, so the finals now have the last three champions set to drop in the last four final spots. Tonight is looking set to be a good show.

Hannah never Teter-ed, straight through to the finals
Hannah never Teter-ed, straight through to the finals

Third place went to Cai Xuetong, with some true Chinese robot style. Although they look impressive, there’s been nothing that stylish or progressive from camps China yet, not quite grasping the fundamentals as well as the Japanese have done in recent years. Hopefully we’ll see more riders like Kazu and Ayumu in the next games. Still, three riders between the two halfpipe finals so far is a pretty big achievement.

A pleasant surprise for us in our Cornish fortress was American rider Kaitlyn Farrington, putting down arguably one of the more progressive runs with a particularly spectacular alley-oop rodeo. If she can tidy up her grabs in the semis she could do better than fourth place in the finals.

Kaitlyn Farrington went weird and huge, a true Gnu rider
Kaitlyn Farrington went weird and huge, a true Gnu rider

Liu Jiayu from China came in fifth, and Mirabelle Thovex – little sister to the French freeski legend - grabbed sixth. Awesome work there.

And so the last snowboard qualifier is over, semis next and then an awesome looking final tonight. It’s gonna be a toughy for the judges, how will they rank the big spins of Kelly Clark and Queralt Castellet against the slow and stylish aerials of Torah and Teter. It’s that old conundrum that the Olympics has thrown up again this time round, spin-to-win vs. style.

Awww… huck it.

Qualified for Finals

Kelly Clark
Queralt Castellet
Torah Bright
Hannah Tetter
Cai Xuetong
Sophie Rodgriguez

Qualified For Semifinals

Li Shuang
Ursina Haller
Sun Zihfeng
Alexandra Duckworth
Sarka Pancochova
Stephanie Magiros
Kaitlyn Farrington
Liu Jiayu
Mirabelle Thovex
Rana Okada
Clemence Grimal
Katie Tsuyuki

X

Also in Events

Olympic Halfpipe Women's Qualification - Live Blog As It Happened

Read More