Kelly Clark books Olympic spot in dominating style

Kelly Clark
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Kelly Clark clinched her fourth Olympic berth, capturing the second U.S. Olympic selection event in Copper Mountain, Colo., on Saturday.

Clark, the 2002 Olympic champion and 2010 bronze medalist, won with the two highest scores, a 98.00 and a 95.50.

Taylor Gold, 20, took the men’s event with 90.25 points to jump into the race to make the Olympic team.

He squeaked into the final as the 16th of 16 qualifiers. His winning run was the first down the halfpipe of 31 total men’s runs Saturday night.

Gold’s younger sister, world champion Arielle Gold, took second to Clark with 91.25 and stayed second to Clark in the race to make the U.S. Olympic Team.

Gretchen Bleiler, the 2006 Olympic silver medalist, was third to make it a U.S. women’s podium sweep.

A maximum of four American women could make it to Sochi in halfpipe snowboarding, but four or more could reach Olympic selection criteria to force tiebreaker rankings.

Clark, Arielle Gold and Bleiler have met Olympic selection criteria (one top-four result) with three more events for more snowboarders to join them.

2006 Olympic champion Hannah Teter failed to make the eight-woman final for the second straight Olympic selection event.

Five men have top-four results already, forcing tiebreaker rankings.

Two-time reigning Olympic champion Shaun White skipped this week’s halfpipe to focus on slopestyle. White was second in the first Olympic selection event last week.

2010 Olympian Greg Bretz, who beat White last week, was second to Taylor Gold on Saturday with 87.75 to maintain his lead in the tiebreaker rankings. Ben Ferguson, 18, completed a U.S. podium sweep.

A snowboarder’s best two results will be combined to create tiebreaker rankings. The next Olympic selection event is in Breckenridge in January.

Here are the Olympic selection tiebreaker ranking standings after two of five selection events, only counting those with top-four results:

Men’s Snowboard Halfpipe
1. Greg Bretz — 1,800
2. Taylor Gold — 1,600
3. Ben Ferguson — 1,000
4. Louie Vito — 900
5. Shaun White — 800

Women’s Snowboard Halfpipe
1. Kelly Clark — 2,000 — clinched Olympic berth
2. Arielle Gold — 1,600 (or 1,400*)
3. Gretchen Bleiler — 1,100 (or 1,050*)

*Gold has 1,400 points and Bleiler has 1,050 points if Chloe Kim‘s third place from Breckenridge last week is counted. Kim, 13, is too young to make the Olympics.

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