COPPER MOUNTAIN, CO. (Dec. 8) —Defending champion Louie Vito (Sandy, UT) led Olympic medalist and U.S. Snowboarding rider Scotty Lago (Seabrook, NH) to take the top spot in qualifying at the Sprint U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix at Copper Mountain as snow fell on the 22-foot pipe. Five U.S. Snowboarding riders made the top-16 cut including Matt Ladley (Chicago) who had surgery two days prior to the qualifiers and completed his run with 13 screws and a plate in his broken left arm. Finals start Saturday at noon.
HIGHLIGHTS - U.S. Snowboarding's Scotty Lago and Greg Bretz will lead a field of 16 athletes into Saturday's Sprint U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix finals. - The top four riders of each heat qualified for the finals, with the next four overall riders—aside from the top four in each heat—also earning spots to Saturday's event. - Lago led the way for the U.S. Snowboarding team with a Heat 1 second run that consisted of a double-cork, back-to-back front 9s, a method straight air and a frontside 10. - Two days after surgery for a broken left arm—that left him with 13 1½-inch screws and a plate in his southpaw limb—Matt Ladley qualified ninth for Saturday's finals. - With moderate to heavy snow in the morning and the sun breaking through by the second run of Heat 3, speed—and visibility—in the pipe improved over the course of the day. - Louie Vito's second run of Heat 1 qualified him first overall: frontside air, backside 5, back-to-back double corks, 1080. - Joining Vito, Ladley and Bretz in the finals are rookies Taylor Gold (Steamboat Springs, CO) and Benji Farrow (Ludlow, VT)
QUOTES Greg Bretz A couple of days ago I took a pretty good spill, I haven't been riding much the last couple of days so I'm just trying to make it to the finals. [The snow is] definitely tough, but you gotta put it past you and give it your best.
Taylor Gold I was just stoked to put one down, I just wanted to have an easier run that I could go big on.
It's all about landing high to go down the pipe today.
Matt Ladley [After run one:] definitely not feeling on my A game but I'll be alright. I can still get a little grab with two fingers.
[My second run] felt bigger, smoother, surprised I got that front 10, and glad I did though. I can't believe I made finals.
TV NBC – Sunday, Dec. 18 - 12:30-2:00 p.m. Versus – Saturday, Dec. 24 – 4:00-5:00 p.m. Versus - Saturday, Dec. 31 - 4:00-500 p.m. (Paul Mitchell Progression Session)
RESULTS (Top 16 riders: the top four from each of the three heats and the other top four overall): 1. Louie Vito, USA, 94.40 2. Scotty Lago, Seabrook, NH, 92.40 3. Luke Mitrani, USA, 92.20 4. Greg Bretz, Anaheim, CA, 90.00 5. Ryo Aono, JPN, 87.00 6. Nathan Johnstone, AUS, 84.80 7. Zachary Black, USA, 84.60 8. Taylor Gold, Steamboat Springs, CO, 84.40 9. Matt Ladley, Chicago, IL, 84.00 10. Kohei Kudo, JPN, 82.60 11. Christian Haller, SUI, 82.60 12. Jane Korpi, FIN, 82.00 13. Arthur Longo, FRA, 82.00 14. Kosuke Hosokawa, JPN, 81.40 15. Benji Farrow, Ludlow, VT, 81.00 16. Taku Hiraoka, JPN, 78.60