Clark Kicks Off Sochi Olympic Season With World Cup Win; Bleier Third
Vermont’s Kelly Clark jump-started the 2013-14 World Cup season by surviving a fall and still winning the Audi Quattro New Zealand Winter Games snowboard halfpipe Saturday in Cadrona. The event kicked off the Sochi Olympic season.
Gretchen Bleier, from Aspen, Colo., was third, her first podium appearance in two seasons. It signaled her comeback from serious training injury to be a strong challenger for Sochi medals.
Clark, who won the same event last year, said, “I was happy to overcome a first run fall. It’s never ideal but it’s great practice. I thought, if this is happening at the Olympics as it happened to me before, what a great opportunity to come out and land a good run.”
Bleier said she was “super stoked” to get to the podium. Head Coach Mike Jankowski said “the way she (Bleier) rode today proves that she is still one of the best in the world and has Sochi firmly locked in her sights.”
American men were shut out of a podium appearance, though Greg Bretz, of Mammoth, Calif., was fifth. Ayumo Hirano led three Japanese men into the top four.
Photo: Kelly Clark (center); Gretchen Bleier (right) finish first and third in New Zealand World Cup (http://wintergamesnz.com)