White, Davis win Mammoth halfpipe qualifiers
MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. -- Two-time defending Olympic halfpipe gold medalist Shaun White moved one step closer to securing a halfpipe gold medal three-peat on Friday, winning the fourth of five Grand Prix Olympic halfpipe qualifiers with a score of 98.6.
Although his first-run score of 97 was good enough for first place, White stepped up the progression and added a switch frontside double cork 1440 (also known as a Cab double cork 14 or "YOLO flip") to the middle of his second run. It was the first time White landed the trick in competition. The trick was first landed by Iouri Podladtchikov at X Games Tignes in March, 2013.
Scotty Lago, the Olympic bronze medalist from Vancouver, finished second, and U.S. Snowboarding rookie Taylor Gold took third. Taylor Gold, along with Greg Bretz and White, now stand in a comfortable position to make the U.S. team.
White chose to skip the first-of-two qualifying events on Friday morning to rest up after crashing in the first slopestyle qualifier on Thursday.
"I woke up this morning and couldn't move very well. My shoulder really hurts," White said. "I'm glad I made the decision to skip it."
On Thursday evening, White rebounded from his crash to win the second slopestyle event and secure a spot on the U.S. Olympic slopestyle team.
In White's absence, Danny Davis took center stage in the first halfpipe qualifier of the day, landing an impressive switch method in his first hit. It's been almost exactly four years since Davis stood atop a halfpipe podium. His last win came at the 2010 Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix in the lead up to the Vancouver Olympics.
"It's nice to win a contest again," Davis said. "It feels good to do well, and to land the run I wanted to land. I didn't throw a safety run. It feels good to be back riding well and feeling healthy. Making the Olympic team will be a total bonus."
After four of five qualifiers, Bretz, Gold and White are all tied for the first three spots on the official U.S. Snowboarding Olympic rankings list, and are sitting in a good position to go to Sochi. Either Scotty Lago or Danny Davis could lock up the fourth spot with a top-two finish in the final qualifier of the series, which takes place on Sunday.