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Women's halfpipe blog: Silver for Teter, bronze for Clark

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  February 18, 2010 08:40 PM

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Add two more medals to the United States' tally here in the Winter Games -- and don't forget credit them to a pair of New Englanders as well.

Hannah Teter won the silver and Kelly Clark took the bronze in the women's halfpipe tonight at Cypress Mountain. Teter is from Belmont, Vt., while Clark is claimed by two states -- she was born in Newport, R.I., but moved to West Dover, Vt. at age 7.

They join Seabrook, N.H.'s Scotty Lago -- who won the bronze in the men's halfpipe Wednesday night -- along with Seth Wescott (gold, snowboardcross), Hannah Kearney (gold, women's moguls) and Bode Miller (bronze, men's downhill) as New England athletes to medal in Vancouver.

Teter, the defending gold medalist from the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, had the best score after the first run at 42.4. But that was surpassed in the second run by Australian Torah Bright, who earned a 45.0 after flawlessly sticking her five moves to stake a claim to the silver.

"It was amazing," said Teter. "It was such a crazy event. It was crazy to be part of such a good show."

Even if in the end, Bright stole it with her golden -- and pressure-filled -- final run.

"I was standing up there [before my run] and was like, 'There's nothing I can do now. Whatever will be, will be.' "

Clark found her way on to the podium with a 42.2 in her second run, bumping China's Liu Jiayu, who scored a 39.3 on her first run and failed to take back the spot from Clark on her second run, finishing with a 34.9.

"I'm so happy to walk away with this medal tonight," said Clark. "I had fallen on my first run and to finish with a medal . . . it's incredible."

The US entered with some hopes of sweeping the event, but defending X-Games halfpipe champ Gretchen Bleiler and Elena Hight both fell on both of their runs.

The Teter/Clark combo marks sixth multiple-medal event of the Games for the US.

Update, 9:53 p.m.: Liu Jiayu is coming out of the gate now. She has the last shot at knocking Clark out of the top three and bumping Teter (at least temporarily) to bronze . . .

. . . but she doesn't do it, meaning Teter and Clark are guaranteed of medals. Teter's the last one up right now.

Update, 9:44 p.m.:Clark leaves the gate singing to herself, and after completing her run that included a 900 Indy grab, she's still singing a happy tune, scoring a 42.2 to put her in position for the bronze.

Clark, who was born in Rhode Island but moved to Vermont at age 7 and took up snowboarding then, seems to have lots of fans in the crowd, and many of them are waving gold and black placards that say "Go Kelly!"

Five more competitors to go, including Teter, so we'll see if she can hang on.

Update, 9:40 p.m.: There will be no halfpipe medal for X-Game champ Gretchen Bleiler.

After completing a pair of 540s during her second run, she lost her balance while appearing to try a third. Pumping her arms to no avail, her board slammed down hard on the edge of the halfpipe as she came tumbling toward the middle of the course.

She did not appear to be injured and smiled and waved to the crowd as she walked off.

Hight also will not medal after also catching the edge and falling during her second run.

So the US's medal hopes are up to Clark -- who is up now -- and Teter, the two New Englanders.

Update, 9:35 p.m.: The second run is underway, and Australia's Bright -- one of the favorites -- delivers a spectacular run that ends with a 45.0 score and a new leader.

Let's see if Bleiler can match her. She's sitting and basking in the crowd before beginning her run.

Update, 9:25 p.m. So after the first run, Teter has the best score by more than three points at 42.4, with China's Liu Jiayu second (39.3), and France's Sophie Rodriguez third (34.4)

Among the other Americans, Kelly Clark is seventh, Elana Hight is eighth, and Gretchen Bleiler is 10th.

The scores are not cumulative, so each snowboarder will have a chance to top her score in the second and final run.

Update, 9:19 p.m. Vermont's Hannah Teter takes over first place with solid if not spectacular run that gets her a 42.4. She didn't get as high as Bleiler did, but made it through the run.

And as we're writing this, Kelly Clark follows with a wipeout while trying to execute a 1080, and Australia's Torah Bright, who had the best score in qualifying, also fell.

Update, 9:16 p.m. Bleiler gets some big air and appears to be in the midst of a terrific run, but she suddenly slips after pulling off a pair of impressive moves, including what looked to be a 540 McTwist. She's in eighth place with an 11.0.

Here's Teter . . .

Update, 9:11 p.m.China's Liu Jiayu takes over the top spot with a 39.3.

Bleiler coming up, and she's animated, waving to the camera with both hands.

Update, 9:05 p.m. And we're underway in the finals.

Elena Hight is the first up for the US and third overall, but she wipes out after he board clips the top of the lip 20 seconds or so into her run. She receives a 24.6 score.

Canada's Mercedes Nicoll follows Hight and earns a 34.6, good for second so far.

* * *

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Would it be greedy to suggest the US could sweep the podium in the women's halfpipe tonight?

Well, yeah. Of course it would. But it's also not out of the realm of possibility.

Vermonters Kelly Clark and Hannah Teter were among three American snowboarders who earned spots in the halfpipe final during qualifying this afternoon at Cypress Mountain.

Clark scored a 45.4 on her first run, good for second place behind Australia's Torah Bright (45.8).

Teter, who won the gold medal in this event during the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, was fourth, while fellow American and reigning X-Games champ Gretchen Bleiler was fifth.

A fourth US snowboarder, Elena Hight (perfect name for this sport), is in via the semifinals.

Clark, Teter and Bleiler had already advanced to the 12-woman finals based on their top-six finish in qualifying.

The finals begin at 9 p.m. More to come then . . .

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