KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Making her fourth Winter Games appearance, American snowboarder Kelly Clark cruised through the qualification round of the women’s halfpipe competition, putting her in position to win a third career Olympic medal.
Clark, who won gold in 2002 and bronze in 2010, posted a score of 95.00 on her second run Wednesday to automatically advance to the event finals. She managed to best her impressive first run score of 92.25, which also would have been good enough to advance.
“It’s really great to come out and land your first run in qualifiers, definitely a big relief to put down a good one,” she said. “I was happy to be able to step it up in my second run.”
Evolving sports of the Winter Olympics
Three other Americans were competing in the second qualification heat, hoping to join Clark in the finals: Arielle Gold, Hannah Teter and Kaitlyn Farrington. The top three finishers in each qualification round advance to the finals and finishers Nos. 4-9 must go through a semifinal round. The finals are scheduled for 9:30 p.m. in Sochi (12:30 p.m. in Washington).
The halfpipe conditions have been a source of frustration for riders in the days before the competition, but Clark praised what she saw on Wednesday. She said the walls and pipe flat finally have the same consistency and bumps aren’t as apparent on the course.
“This is the best the pipe’s been out of any of our practice days,” she said. “To be honest, I forgot that it was supposed to be bad until after practice because it was riding so great. I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, wow, it is riding great.’”
“I hope conditions hold up through the next few rounds of qualifying until tonight,” Clark added.
Also automatically qualifying out of the first heat into the finals were Spain’s Queralt Castellet (93.25) and France’s Sophie Rodriguez (78.50).