Author of Story: Lindsey Sine/USSA.ORG
Kelly Clark (Mt. Snow, VT) was back at it again Saturday as she, joined by first-time Grand Prix winner U.S. Snowboarding Rookie Matt Ladley (Steamboat Springs, CO), took to the top of the halfpipe podium at the Sprint U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain. The win cemented Clark’s Grand Prix overall title, along with fellow champion Louie Vito (Sandy, UT) who was third for the day.
Clark was followed in second by Gretchen Bleiler (Aspen, CO) and Sarah Conrad of Canada was third.
The event marked the seventh win in-a-row for Clark, who moves onto the Burton U.S. Open this week and hopes to add more wins and titles to her arsenal.
“It’s great to come out and get another win here. More than the placing, I’m happy with my riding. That’s the most important thing for me and the good placing follows that,” Clark said. “It’s great to come out and land your first run in finals. I’ve been working on increasing my standard for what that is, and that’s my stock final,” Clark said.
In favor of securing an early lead, Clark put together a run she knew she had on lock with a front 9, back 5, front 7, cab 7 and stalefish.
“This is definitely a big win for me. I came away with the Dew Tour title and the Grand Prix title now. I’m looking forward to next week and seeing if I can’t step it up in the TTR and the Global Open series,” Clark said.
Bleiler was all smiles with her second place finish, considering she had fun and was also able to land her back 9, a trick she has been in the process of perfecting.
“I had a really tough day yesterday, so I decided to take a little pressure off myself. I feel like sometimes I put too much on and I hit a wall. So I decided to let it go today,” Bleiler said. “Instead of doing front 9, back 9, I decided to work on my crippler, which is a strength of mine. Then I got my back 9 on my second run and I am so happy with that.”
Ladley, on the other hand, had no expectations for the day, and couldn’t believe he was standing at the top of the pipe before his second run with the win already secured.
Ladley took the victory with a back 5, front 9, back 9, front 10, cab 10.
“I feel great. It’s hard to explain. It’s surreal. I got a victory lap up there and I was thinking, ‘I already won, this is crazy,’” Ladley said. “I knew I put down a solid first run but I saw a lot of those guys landing their doubles, but it turns out it held up pretty well.”
“This is my first time winning a Grand Prix, and my first time really winning a major event. So it feels good. I’ve been on the podium a couple of times, but I’ve been hoping for this one for a while,” Ladley said.
Following behind Ladley were hometown favorite Greg Bretz (Mammoth Mountain, CA) for second and Vito with the third.
“It’s really good that I was able to come home and perform well. It’s kind of bragging rights that I can put it down at home,” Bretz said.
And, while it wasn’t the exact result he was looking for, Vito was still pleased to come away with his second series title of the season.
“It is what it is. I wish I were a little higher, obviously. You always want to do better and better. I stayed on my feet after a weird first run. I took home the overall, which is good, so I am happy about that, too,” Vito said.
The event marked the final tour stop of the Grand Prix series for the 2011 season.
1. Matt Ladley, Steamboat Springs, CO, 45.40
2. Greg Bretz, Mammoth Mountain, CA, 43.90
3. Louie Vito, Sandy, UT, 43.00
4. Trevor Jacob, Mammoth Lakes, CA, 41.60
9. Zack Black, Breckenridge, CO, 35.40
1. Kelly Clark, Mt. Snow, VT, 48.20
2. Gretchen Bleiler, Aspen, CO, 44.50
3. Sarah Conrad, Canada, 35.90
4. Ellery Hollingsworth, Stratton, VT, 34.60
7. Kaitlyn Farrington, Sun Valley, ID
8. Clair Bidez, Minturn, CO, 14.20