It all came down to one run. Years of training. Years of competing. Kelly Clark had qualified first in the Women’s Olympic halfpipe semi finals held this morning at Park City, Utah, and was the last of the twelve finalists to take her run.
The format was best score of two runs counts, and after the first round, Clark sat in second place behind a surprisingly strong run by Doriane Vidal, who had busted larger than ever before.
Each of the competitors took their best shot one final time in one of the best pipes ever. More than 20,000 people lined the walls and filled the grandstands watching, probably one of the largest snowboard halfpipe crowds ever. And the Jumbotron showed instant replays of each huge air, and of each heartbreaking crash.
After the other eleven competitors went, the top two scores were the same. Vidal was leading with a 43.0, and Clark was in second with a 40.8. So would it be a Silver medal, or was she going to go for the Gold?
The results weren’t that surprising if you know Clark. Welcome To The Jungle by Guns and Roses began to play over the loudspeakers, and Clark dropped in, put together a series of giant straight airs, blew out a frontside 720 and a huge inverted 540, almost crashed on her last hit, caught herself, rode to the bottom and claimed the run with both arms thrusting to the sky. The crowd went nuts, chanting “U.S.A., U.S.A.!”
Then a silence fell over the stadium as all eyes turned to the scoreboard to wait for the final results. It lasted forever, while the Jumbotron replayed Clark’s run, showing the huge straight airs, spins, and flips.
Then the score came up: 47.9. The crowd went wild again. Kelly Clark, with her last run of the competition, had taken the Gold Medal. A victory for her. A victory for the U.S., in its homeland, and it was the first Gold Medal for the U.S. of these Olympics.
She was immediately raised up on the shoulders of her teammates as the crowd continued to cheer for the eighteen-year-old pipe powerhouse.
Log back on to transworldsnowboarding.com for an exclusive interview with Kelly Clark and the other finalists and photos from all the action today.
Women’s Olympic Halfpipe Results
1. Kelly Clark
2. Doriane Vidal
3. Fabienne Reuteler
4. Kjersti Oe Buass
5. Shannon Dunn-Downing