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COPPER MOUNTAIN, CO (Dec. 9) – Halfpipe athletes from around the globe were right back at home Thursday as they dropped into the qualification rounds of the Visa U.S. Halfpipe Grand Prix at Copper Mountain in Colorado. And none other than Olympic gold and bronze medalist Kelly Clark (Mount Snow, VT) was back in top form, taking the top qualification spot for the ladies.

“I qualified first for finals, which is always a great way to start the year. I’m really looking forward to Saturday, there’s a lot of great riding out there and I feel like it’s going to be a good event,” Clark said.

The hafpipe was full of energy as the sport makes its return to competition for a new winter season following an incredible Olympic year.

Clark was the leader for three of her U.S. teammates, including Kaitlyn Farrington (Sun Valley, ID) who had a breakthrough string of events to bump up to the Pro Team, and Ellery Hollingsworth (Stratton Mountain, VT), who’s no stranger herself to the Grand Prix podium.

“The pipe was really good today better than it has been and it was good to get out there and do the best quail of the season everyone was ripping,” Hollingsworth said.

Norway’s Torre-V. Holvik took the men’s first spot, followed by Luke Mitrani (Mammoth, CA) in the second spot. Colorado’s own Broc Waring (Edwards, CO) had a killer performance against a tough field to come in the third qualification spot.

“I’m pumped. I’ve been riding well and it’s so good to land a solid run,” Waring said. “It gives me some extra confidence beginning the competition year like this. It’s the right way to kick it off and hopefully I can bring in the same thing in the finals.”

The snowboarding continues Saturday with men’s and women’s finals at 11:30 a.m.

OFFICIAL RESULTS
2011 Visa U.S. Halfpipe Grand Prix
Copper Mountain, CO – Dec. 9, 2010
Snowboard Qualifications

Men
1. Tore-V. Holvik, Norway, 26.90
2. Luke Mitrani, Mammoth, CA, 26.80
3. Broc Waring, Edwards, CO, 26.70
4. Greg Bretz, Mammoth, CA, 26.40
5. Brett Esser, Breckenridge, CO, 26.20
6. Louie Vito, Sandy, UT, 25.60
7. Zack Black, Breckenridge, CO, 25.30
8. Scotty Lago, Seabrook, NH, 25.00
9. Kohei Kudo, Japan, 24.90
10. Kosuke Hosokawa, Japan, 24.60
11. Nathan Johnstone, Australia, 24.40
12. Ben Farrow, Mount Holly, VT, 24.30
13. JJ Thomas, Golden, CO, 23.90
14. Kazuumi Fujita, Japan, 23.50
15. Matt Ladley, Steamboat Springs, CO, 23.30
16. Spencer Shaw, Stratton, VT, 23.20

Women
1. Kelly Clark, Mt. Snow, VT, 27.90
2. Kaitlyn Farrington, Sun Valley, ID, 26.20
3. Ellery Hollingsworth, Stratton Mountain, VT, 25.70
4. Queralt Castellet, Spain, 25.30
5. Soko Yamaoka, Japan, 24.40
6. Rana Okada, Japan, 24.30
7. Holly Crawford, Australia, 23.90
8. Sarah Conrad, Canada, 23.60