Shaun White has won the third US Olympic team qualifier to earn himself a place at the Vancouver 2010 games. Having won the first qualifier at Copper Mountain, and finished second earlier this week, Shaun made sure of his place by beating the field in the second of the two consecutive qualifiers at Mammoth Mountain. On the women’s side, Gretchen Bleiler threw down to take first place, making her the second American woman to secure a spot on the squad after Kelly Clark.
It was always unlikely that Shaun would take losing out to Danny Davis in last week’s qualifier lying down. He came out all-guns blazing, throwing down double corks left, right and centre, and having another crack at the frankly insane double McTwist 1260 that had eluded him in his battle with Davis.
Danny, unfortunately, could not match his form of the other day, falling on both his runs and finishing outside the top ten. Louie Vito rode well though, grabbing his second second place of the qualifiers. Combined with his close fourth in last week’s qualifier, this now makes Vito a likely prospect for the US team, but nothing is certain.
With only four places on the Olympics squad, the competition is still fierce, and there are a multitude of riders who could claim the last three places, including Danny, Scotty Lago, and the seasoned competitor JJ Thomas. Thomas, who already has a Bronze medal to his name from the Salt Lake City Games of 2002, finished a close third here, beating much younger riders like Luke Mitrani and Elijah Teter in the process.
In the race for places on the women’s team 2006 gold medallist Hannah Teter looks a likely candidate for the third and final spot, but everything will come down to the fourth qualifier in Park City, Utah later this month.
Check out the video highlights of the comp (courtesy of Mammoth Mountain) below.