USSA Grand Prix Pipe Finals: Shaun White takes victory, Vito and Thomas round out podium in Mammoth

Posted By: The Ski Channel on January 9, 2010 4:10 pm

It’s been a tough week for the competitors of the USSA Grand Prix held at Mammoth Mountain. The pre-competition injury sustained by snowboarder Kevin Pearce in Park City, Utah, while attempting this season’s must-have trick, the double cork, had definitely been on the minds of competitors all week. That didn’t change simply because it was superpipe finals. All throughout the V.I.P. pit you could see signs and banners illustrating the support for the fallen comrade. Signs and stickers saying, “I ride for Kevin Pearce” were visibly seen all over the competition. However, the close-knit community still had to rally themselves to bring their competitive fire to today’s event. After all, Olympic spots were on the line for many.

In the end it would be some pretty familar faces coming out on top of the men and women’s podiums today. Shaun White in no surprise to many grabbed his 2nd Grand Prix victory of the season, thus guaranteeing we will see the ginger-haired snowboarding phenom in Vancouver. Shaun very much set the proverbial bar for the rest of the competition with his massive airs, double corks, dizzying spins, and even a throw-back trick with his 540 sky hook. In the end though it was most definitely the amplitude of Mr. White that set him apart from his fellow podium dwellers.

Shaun White going absolutely massive on his first hit demonstrating one of the major reasons why he earned another Olympic spot

Louie Vito, who had been facing all sorts of issues this week in practice and the first contest, finally put the pieces together on his second run. Vito tossed his patented back-to-back double corks and a barrage of other spins en route to his final score of 45.6. Vito’s technicality is well-documented, but he needs to bring some bigger amplitude if he hopes to steal Olympic Gold from Shaun White.

Rounding out the top three was long-time Olympic Halfpipe competitor JJ Thomas. Attempting to make his 4th Olympics, the man impressed the crowd with some of the best airs and steezy spins of the day. While he didn’t throw any doubles, Thomas shows that sometimes just making your tricks look good and taking them into the stratosphere can go a long way.

Other competition notes on the men’s side included the

performance of Zach Black. Black, one of the dark horses to make it to Vancouver, tossed what is believed to be the first documented switch backside 1080 in major competition. The maneuver was so impressive to judges that it moved Black into 1st place for quite some time during the rider’s first runs.

While the men were super impressive, the ladies were also showing they can hang based on the performances of the competitors in the women’s finals. Ellery Hollingsworth was trying 1080s in her runs, and 900s were being tossed around as well. With Kelly Clark already advancing on to the Olympic team, the stage was set for some other notables to make a move. 2006 Olympic Silver Medalist Gretchen Bleiler would take home the victory nod, followed by Elena Height and Hannah Teter. 

Overall the level of competition displayed this week from Mammoth has been tremendous. It’s going to be truly scary to see what these athletes unleash next month in Vancouver. But to see highlights from this Mammoth stop on the USSA Grand Prix, check out NBC tomorrow at 2pm EST.

Men’s Results

1. Shaun White

2. Louie Vito

3. JJ Thomas

Women’s Results

1. Gretchen Bleiler

2. Elena Height

3. Hannah Teter