U.S. Grand Prix
The U.S. Grand Prix -- an Olympic qualifying event for the upcoming Winter Games in Sochi, Russia -- took place this weekend at Copper Mountain, Colo. A few Americans walked away with secure spots on the 2014 Olympic team. Others will continue to vie for one of the coveted spots at other qualifier events coming up in January.
Frenchman Kevin Rolland took second place in the men's halfpipe finals, behind 17-year-old American Aaron Blunck. Blunck himself described Rolland's second-place run as "the craziest run I've ever seen in halfpipe to date."
Kevin Rolland will be France's best bet for an Olympic gold when the sport of ski halfpipe makes its Olympic debut this February in Sochi, Russia.
American Sage Kotsenburg had a top qualifying score in the men's snowboard slopestyle eliminations but he ended up in 14th place in the finals.
Seppe Smits from Belgium placed 11th in the men's snowboard slopestyle finals Sunday. Coming from a country not known for producing world-class snowboarders, he certainly will have a place in the Olympics when slopestyle makes its Olympic debut in February.
Women's Halfpipe Podium
The women's ski halfpipe podium, from left to right: third place's Marie Martinod, standing with her daughter; winner Brita Sigourney; and second place's Maddie Bowman.
Kelly Clark not only won the women's snowboard halfpipe finals, but she also secured her spot on the 2014 U.S. Olympic team. Clark won gold at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and bronze at the 2010 Games in Vancouver. Russia will be her fourth trip to the Olympic Games.
David Wise, the overall 2013 AFP men's ski halfpipe champion and a multiple X Games gold medalist, was unable to put together a clean run in qualifiers and found himself in an unfamiliar 24th place, failing to advance to the finals.
Double threat Gus Kenworthy, from the U.S., took third place in the men's halfpipe finals and seventh in the slopestyle finals, proving he will be a contender in both disciplines in Sochi. Kenworthy is one of very few athletes to compete in both disciplines.
Elena Koenz of Switzerland took third place in the women's snowboard slopestyle finals, which was won by Czech snowboarder rka Panochov.
Lisa Zimmermann from Germany took fifth place in the women's ski slopestyle finals, which were won by Canadian Dara Howell. "Everyone's out there killing it, and I'm just really thankful I was able to put down the run I wanted to put down," Howell said.
Seamus O'Connor from Ireland took 15th place in the men's snowboard slopestyle contest. Norwegians Stle Sandbech and Torstein Horgmo swept the contest, ending up in first and second place, respectively.