It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to hold on to first for two runs, but it was extremely nerve-racking. Seeing Shaun mess up was very uncharacteristic of him. I’m ecstatic right now. —Greg Bretz
For the first time in four years, Shaun White wasn't on top of the podium of a snowboard half-pipe competition.
Greg Bretz outperformed the two-time Olympic gold medalist on Saturday as the U.S. swept the first Olympic qualifier at the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championship in Breckenridge, Colo.
"It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to hold on to first for two runs, but it was extremely nerve-racking," said Bretz, who scored a 91.40 on his first run to edge White, who scored 90.40 on his second run. "Seeing Shaun mess up was very uncharacteristic of him. I’m ecstatic right now."
White has struggled to return from injury, but he still managed to medal, earning a silver. U.S. rookie Taylor Gold scored 89.60 to earn bronze and complete the American sweep.
"I’m so stoked it’s an Olympic qualifier and I was able to come out on top," Bretz said. "I just try to ride for myself and stay away from what other people are doing and it ended up working out and I’m super stoked about it."
The competition was the first of five Olympic-qualifying races. Next, the half-pipe men travel down the road to Copper Mountain for the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix Dec. 21-22, the second Olympic qualifier.
Caldwell's return to aerials lands her on the podium
In her first competition in more than two years, 2010 Olympian Ashley Caldwell earned silver. The podium means she's halfway to qualifying for the 2014 Olympic team.
"I couldn't be happier about my results here in China," Caldwell said. "This was my first competition back after taking two years off for knee surgeries. Returning from injury is tough and really nerve-racking, but landing some nice jumps here has given me the confidence for the rest of this exciting World Cup season. And coming back to an awesome team makes it even more fun."
Caldwell was second to China's Nina Li, who scored a 94.11. Caldwell earned a 93.41, and was the only competitor not from China in the top five finishers.
Mike Rossi (Long Valley, N.J.) finished eighth in the men’s competition, taking the top spot for the U.S. freestyle ski team. The aerialists now head to Beijing for a World Cup in the famous Bird's Nest Stadium Dec. 21-22.
U.S. wins silver in cross-country
It took a photograph to determine who won the 1.5 kilometer sprint on Sunday.
World Cup sprint champion Kikkan Randall lost a sprint battle to Norway's Marit Bjoergen by just a few inches.
"While I really wanted to win here today, this close finish is really good for my motivation and training focus from now until Sochi," Randall said. "I doubt Bjoergen and I will line up again before then so I have to work hard and be ready to ski faster on the finish stretch next time."
Randall said she was proud of how the whole team performed.
"It’s awesome to have the team ski so well today, too," she said. "It was a super tight qualification, so it was awesome to get four girls in the top 30. I almost thought we might have more than one American in the final. Just a little more experience for those girls and they'll be right in there."
In the men’s sprint, Simi Hamilton (Aspen, Colo.) took the top spot for the U.S. in 14th while Norway’s Anders Gloeersen won the race. Next the World Cup moves to Asiago, Italy, for men’s and women’s classic and team sprints Dec. 21-22.
Vermont native wins first slopestyle qualifier
Three-time Winter X Games medalist Devin Logan of West Dover, Vt., sealed the victory Saturday in the first-ever slopestyle skiing Olympic qualifier at the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships.
U.S. freeskiing rookie Maggie Voisin of Whitefish, Mont., also made the podium on Saturday, which also happened to be her 15th birthday, making her age-eligible for the Winter Olympic Games. Logan and Voisin are in a favorable position as the series moves to Copper Mountain for the Visa U.S. Grand Prix Presented by The North Face on Dec. 20-21, the second of five qualification events.