Bright leads snowboard superpipe qualifying; Bleiler fifth |

Bright leads snowboard superpipe qualifying; Bleiler fifth

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Glenwood Springs CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Torah Bright sported a gold jacket in Thursday’s Winter X Games women’s snowboard superpipe qualifying round at Buttermilk. She might have some hardware to match Friday night.

The 22-year-old native of Cooma, Australia, laid down a near-flawless and technical second run, posting a score of 97.66 to nab the top spot. Vermont’s Kelly Clark (95) was second and South Lake Taho, Calif.’s Hannah Teter (86.66) was third.

Aspen’s Gretchen Bleiler, suffering from the stomach flu, fell on her second run and consequently had to settle for a first-run score of 84.66, good for fifth. The top six in the 14-team field advance to Friday’s best-of-three-runs final.

“After I landed that first run, I said ‘Good, now I have a spot,'” Bright said. “Then, I could go ahead and do my run.”

She did just that. Moments after Clark, the 2005 gold medalist here, wowed the crowd with a high-amplitude run that featured towering airs and back-to-back 720s, Bright upped the ante. After landing a stylish 360 off the first hit, she pulled off the first of two 720s. The last came off the final hit, directly after a soaring air to fakie.

Judges rewarded her for the day’s most technical run.

“I still had another trick to do, and I ran out of pipe,” Bright joked. “The pipe is perfect. As long as I keep my energy up and keep riding my best, I have a chance. I was definitely happy with that second run.”

Bleiler did not share that sentiment. The 27-year-old, who checked into Aspen Valley Hospital on Tuesday to receive treatment ” “I could not be sick. It was not an option,” she said ” was looking to go big after an admittedly conservative first run. She attempted her trademark Crippler off the first hit, hit the deck and fell to the base of the 22-foot pipe, landing hard on her tailbone. She remained on her back for nearly 20 seconds before rising to her feet and boarding slowly to the finish.

“What’s going on with me?” Bleiler later joked as she sat in the snow munching on saltines. “I was feeling a little weak. … On that first run, I really held back more than I should. But I made the finals, and I’m fine with that.

“Obviously, it’s nice to qualify in first place, but it doesn’t really matter. Honestly, I like going right away ” I hate waiting. This is a good thing for me.”

Bleiler was planning to head to Basalt later Thursday to receive acupuncture. After some more saltines, some apple sauce and bananas, she said she’ll be ready to defend her title Friday.

She knows she’ll have her work cut out for her.

“Torah has been riding better than I’ve ever seen her ride, and Kelly’s going big, as always,” she added. “I didn’t come close to throwing the same run I will in the final. … The pipe is amazing, I’m in my hometown and I have the support of the entire community. I’m going to go out and do everything I have to do to give everyone a good show.”

1. Torah Bright / 97.66 / Cooma, Australia

2. Kelly Clark / 95.00 / Mount Snow, Vt.

3. Hannah Teter / 86.66 / South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

4. Ellery Hollingsworth / 85.66 / Darien, Conn.

5. Gretchen Bleiler / 84.66 / Aspen, Colo.

6. Kaitlyn Farrington / 73.66 / Bellevue, Idaho

7. Kjersti Oestgaard Buass / 73.33 / Trondheim, Norway

8. Maddy Schaffrick / 64.33 / Steamboat Springs, Colo.

9. Molly Aguirre / 62.66 / Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

10. Faye Gulini / 55.33 / Vail, Colo.

11. Leslie Glenn / 51.00 / Breckenridge, Colo.

12. Meg Pugh / 49.66 / Cottonwood Heights, Utah

13. Tricia Byrnes / 48.00 / Aspen, Colo.

14. Lizzy Beerman / 37.00 / Weston, Vt.

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