Clark wins Women's Snowboard SuperPipe
TIGNES, France -- Kelly Clark won her third consecutive X Games Tignes gold in Women's SuperPipe during a snowstorm Wednesday night, following up on her third consecutive X Games Aspen gold in January.
"Tonight was a challenging night," Clark said after the competition. "It's always good to come out and land your first run because, potentially, it just keeps snowing and it gets slower and more difficult."
Heavy snow during the finals prevented her from unveiling the Cab 1080 and other new tricks she has been working on, but her Run 1 score of 87.66 was enough to win. That run opened with the frontside 1080 indy grab that has become her signature. Clark followed it up with a Cab 720 mute grab, frontside indy, backside 540 mute grab and frontside 540. It was enough to hold off Elena Hight and Arielle Gold for a repeat of Aspen's podium.
"It's never easy. There are always challenges," said Clark when asked what it means to win her 62nd pipe title. "I've historically been very poor in riding in snow conditions. My mechanics are really slow. So for me to try to do a trick as big as I normally do, it is a nightmare."
She said she looked at the rough weather as a chance to get better.
"Take a big picture perspective," she said. "What if it's dumping next year in Sochi? To put down a good run in a snowstorm, move forward and gain experience and confidence in that. It's the little victories.
"I look at the things that I gained as a competitor as a snowboarder, and those are the things I reflect on and appreciate at the end of the day."
Hight couldn't find the speed to try the alley-oop double rodeo that won her silver in Aspen and put her in the history books as the first to land a double cork in women's pipe competition, but she edged into second place in her third and final run, bumping Gold to third.
"It's a bummer when weather comes in and messes with our perfect pipe, but that's a part of snow sports," Hight sad. "The halfpipe was awesome. The wind was a factor, but it wasn't at the point where it was dangerous. I didn't do the run I wanted to do, but with conditions like this, to be able to land a run clean -- I did a frontside 900, which I haven't done all season, so that feels really good. I'm happy to end the season on a good note."The heavy snow, which came down strongly in the latter half of the competition, was on everyone's mind.
"The conditions made the halfpipe really slow, which is [not the scenario] we need to do better and bigger tricks," said Gold. "But I think, under the circumstances, it was still a good contest. I'm sure we would have all appreciated better conditions, but the powder riding tomorrow is going to be great. I'm really looking forward to that. I think we all are."
X Games Tignes is the first 6Star event of the 2013-14 World Snowboard Tour, but most riders were viewing it as the last major event of the season as they begin shifting focus toward the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. All eight finalists in Tignes were American riders. In Sochi, they're likely to face a broad range of international contenders.
"I started thinking about next season four years ago," said Clark, who won silver at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 behind Australian rider Torah Bright. "It's all about progression for me. I was hoping to get to try some new tricks here tonight ... but all in all, it's a great way to head into next year."
XGames.com's Melissa Larsen contributed to this report.