4 Steamboat snowboarders into Grand Prix finals
December 18, 2013
Steamboat Springs — Saturday is setting up to be another big one for Steamboat Springs snowboarders. Four Steamboat-connected riders advanced while competing in the snowboard half-pipe preliminaries Wednesday at a Grand Prix event at Copper Mountain.
Arielle Gold advanced on the women's side while Matt Ladley, Benji Farrow and Taylor Gold all made it through the men's side.
The men survived in three heats stacked with world-class talent. The top four scorers from each heat automatically were advanced while the next four overall riders also had their tickets punched.
It was that last loophole that sent all three men into Saturday night's finals competition.
"It was extremely close," said Farrow, a Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club alumnus. "It was a tough day and a bit of a tough pipe, but I'm happy we all made it through."
Greg Bretz, who opened eyes when he won last weekend's Dew Tour half-pipe finals, was the top qualifier with a run of 94.0. Ladley was tops among the Steamboat contingent, with a score of 85.5. Farrow was 15th overall at 83.75, and Gold, who had the best result of career with a third-place finish at the Dew Tour last week, was the final Wednesday qualifier.
Ladley threw down his best run on his first try, a clean but not perfect attempt, he said.
He had been hoping for more on his second go, but his board broke on a hard landing.
Still, he's eager for Saturday. He stumbled at the Dew Tour and missed the finals. While that result itself didn't derail his hopes of making the half-pipe Olympic team, he said he's aware it ate up some of his room for error.
The Dew Tour was the first and the Copper Grand Prix is the second of five Olympic qualifying events.
"That definitely crushes you a little mentally, but you have to tell yourself that's the way it goes sometimes," he said, reflecting on last weekend. "I was disappointed, but on the bright side, I've been riding well. I'm feeling good, and I'm healthy. This is a different week, and I can turn it around now that I'm riding the way I want to."
Farrow was ninth at the Dew Tour finals — disappointing, he said. The Breckenridge-based rider was just happy to make the cut Wednesday but was hoping he could lay down a solid first run in the finals, then aim for something even bigger with his second run.
"It's a matter of really making it count when finals roll around," he said. "I'm riding well, so I have the opportunity to make the podium."
Gold qualifies 2nd
Arielle Gold, meanwhile, left no doubt that she'd be competing Saturday. She nailed her first run, scoring 90.5. It locked her into first place in her heat and slotted her just behind Kelly Clark.
Clark won her heat with a score of 95.0. Sophie Rodriguez qualified third at 83.0. Rana Okada, Queralt Castellet, Ellery Hollingsworth, Elena Hight and Kaitlyn Farrington all also made the finals.
Steamboat's Maddy Schaffrick came up just short for the second time this season. After just missing the cut a week ago at the Dew Tour, she finished ninth again, one spot short of the eight-competitor finals. She scored 69.75 on her first and best run, then 68.0 on her second attempt.