Two of the world’s most decorated snowboard riders showed that they will be a factor at next year’s Olympic halfpipe competition as legends Kelly Clark and Shaun White reached the podium at Sunday’s world cup Olympic test event in PyeongChang, South Korea.
After going a year without a podium and a pair of close-but-no-cigar showings with fourth-place finishes at X Games Aspen and the world cup stop in Laax, Switzerland, Clark seems to be regaining the form that gave her three Olympic medals at four Games. China’s Liu Jiayu took an early lead with a first run score of 91.50, but Clark went to the top of the leaderboard in the second run with a 94.00 that would stand for the win. Cai Xuetong received an 86.50 to give China a double podium.
A four-time Olympian and 2002 Olympic champion, Clark has swept both qualifying and finals at the last two cup stops while growing her career count to 13 victories in 20 halfpipe world cup podiums since her debut in 2000.
Clark has now won the past four Olympic test events.
With the PyeongChang event also serving as the last world cup of the season, Clark ended in a tie for second with Liu with 2,500 points each.
After soaring to eight consecutive wins over the period of a year, world cup leader Chloe Kim has dropped off the podium, finishing fourth for the second consecutive outing with an 82.50. She still won the women's halfpipe title for the season, though, with 3,000 points.
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On the men’s side, two-time Olympic champion Shaun White appeared to be on his way to his sixth world cup victory after nailing a first run 95.00 that seemed untouchable, but Australia’s Scotty James had other ideas. Wearing mittens that resemble boxing gloves, the 22-year-old fought back on the final run with a 96.00 that relegated White to second place.
White, who is known for being selective about which events he enters, has now competed at three world cups this season – the most he has entered in one season in his 16-year career – showing he is dedicated to his quest for a fourth Olympic team.
With six riders among the 10 in the final, Team USA took five of the top seven places. Ben Ferguson was fourth at 84.50, followed by Greg Bretz (81.75), Chase Josey (79.75) and Matt Ladley (70.00).
James’ third career cup podium pushed him past Josey to win the world cup standings with 2,700 points, 340 ahead of the American. White moved up two spots to end the season in third with 1,930 points, leapfrogging Switzerland’s Iouri Podladtchikov and Patrick Burgener. Podladtchikov, the reigning Olympic champion, fell during all three runs Sunday and finished 10th. Bretz ended the season in sixth, immediately followed by Jake Pates, Ferguson and Louie Vito.