Scotty Lago puts down a solid run at the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix at Park City Mountain Resort. (Getty Images-Doug Pensinger)
PARK CITY, UT (Feb. 1) - Olympic champion Shaun White (Carlsbad, CA) led a USA sweep in the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix at Park City Mountain Resort. Olympic bronze medalist Scotty Lago (Seabrook, NH) was second and Luke Mitrani (Mammoth Lakes, CA) third in the FIS World Cup. Chinese rider Jiayu Liu took the women's title over FIS World Champion Arielle Gold (Steamboat Springs, CO) with Kaitlyn Farrington (Sun Valley, ID) third. The finishes for Mitrani and Gold were enough to clinch the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix season title, along with the U.S. Championship crown - plus a payday of $20,000 for the series win. Top riders are now headed to Sochi, Russia for the Olympic test events in the halfpipe Feb. 13-14 with another FIS World Cup.
Shaun White (Carlsbad, CA) had to come from behind on his second run to win the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix in Park City leading a USA sweep with a 97.3.
Scotty Lago (Seabrook, NH) was second at 94.5, Luke Mitrani (Mammoth Lakes, CA) third at 91.8.
China's Jiayu Liu put down a strong second run at 82.0 to edge Arielle Gold (Steamboat Springs, CO) at 80.3. Kaityn Farrington was third at 73.3.
White left the door open, falling near the bottom of his first run. Lago and Mitrani both rode at an extremely high level, putting the pressure on White for his final run.
Favorite Kelly Clark (W. Dover, VT) struggled in her two runs, crashing both times. Gold, who recently won the FIS Snowboard World Championship halfpipe, rode strong and picked up the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix series title and $20,000.
The Sprint U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain and Park City were both FIS World Cup events along with a 5Star World Snowboard Tour competition.
The Burton European Open is on tap Feb. 4-9 in Laax, Switzerland. The FIS World Cup now heads for Sochi, Russia with the Olympic test event in the halfpipe Feb. 13-14. FIS World Cups serve as platforms for individual athletes to gain minimum Olympic qualifying criteria as well as nations' quota spots.
SPRINT U.S. GRAND PRIX FINAL HALFPIPE STANDINGS U.S. Championship - $20,000 cash prize to winners Men 1. Luke Mitrani, Mammoth Lakes, CA, 1,400 2. Louie Vito, Sandy, UT, 1,050 3. Shaun White, Carlsbad, CA, 1,000 4. Nathan Johnstone, Australia, 1,000 5. Scotty Lago, Seabrook, NH, 960
Women 1. Arielle Gold, Steamboat Springs, CO, 1,300 2. Kelly Clark, W. Dover, VT, 1,200 3. Kaitlyn Farrington, Sun Valley, ID, 1,050 4. Jiayu Liu, China, 1,000 5. Torah Bright, Australia, 1,000
QUOTES Shaun White It was a do or die scenario and I knew I was going to make that win happen. This halfpipe has a little bit more vert than I had been riding. It encourages me when I fall like I did on my first run and I got a little angry. It makes a win so much more rewarding when you have to come from the back of the heat. Scotty and Luke put down amazing runs and for me it was a defining moment. I got really pumped up when they did that. I felt the pressure - it was more of 'I have to put down a run' instead of 'I want to put down a run.' I am excited, I heard I might have helped to secure an Olympic spot for the U.S. team which would be great and hopefully next season I can claim one of those spots.
I landed a run that I felt pretty good about, but I could have done better. I expected more from myself, I was hoping to put down a better run. In practice I shined myself pretty hard on the coping and it made me a bit timid during the contest. I was really just trying to land a run on my feet. Winning the national champion award was such a treat and surprise. I wasn't expecting it and I am honored to be up there.
Next up I am so excited to go to Sochi, the group of people I am going with could not be any better, my friends and my coaches. I have heard the venue is amazing and I am extremely excited for it.
My front 9, was a little sketchy in my run, but what can you do? I don't think I was riding my best, but I always have a good time at the Grand Prix' and that's really what snowboarding is about. It's always fun to ride with Kelly and Arielle and I am bummed that Kelly isn't on the podium with us.
I had surgery two Mondays ago on my wrist and got my my stitches out yesterday. Next I am going to Russia for the World Cup and test event, then the U.S. Open and then France for Euro X Games. I am really excited to go and see what Russia about.
Park City is a spot where magic happens - a lot of good memories here in Park City. Some of the most impressive runs we've seen go down this year [were] today. It's a great contest. Second run was honestly probably one of the better runs I've ever put down, including practice and contests. I couldn't be happier. I couldn't have topped it either. It's probably the best feeling in the world, when you're riding away and you know you landed the run you wanted to land - that's what you compete for.
You never know with Shaun, he's on his own program. We were all kind of surprised to see him here, too, but he needed to get some points to become eligible for the Olympics. You can never count him out obviously. I thought I had a really good shot today. That was probably the closest I've been to him in a while.
I had such a good time today, it's always great to ride with my friends and have fun at contests. I think we all rode so well today- the weather was perfect, the pipe was awesome it could not have been a better day.
We're all just like neck-and-neck and with Shaun and of course he is still on top, but one day, watch out! Something that no one really ever mentioned is that one of my best friends, Kevin Pearce, got hurt in this halfpipe. There's a lot of pressure being up there for some reason. I had to do the same trick that he fell on. I just remember kind of stressing out. At the end of the day, just to walk away from this halfpipe and nobody's hurt, I think that's a good achievement.