COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. — Quick, what's 9.9 times five?
Answer: It's about as close to perfection in a snowboard halfpipe contest as you can get.
Reigning Olympic gold medalist Shaun White used back-to-back double-corked tricks Friday on the final qualifying run at the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix competition to again raise the standard of the sport he has dominated for years.
They're going to have to change the scoring system soon, or the judges just may run out of points.
White's score of 49.50 (out of a possible 50) edged out fellow American Louie Vito's 48.60 for the top qualifying score heading into Saturday's finals. This event is the first of five contests used to determine the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team.
Vito's own rendition of the back-to-back double-corked 1080s had established the score to beat in the talent-stacked third and final heat just one lap prior.
"Those scores are crazy. You can just tell that the riding has been stepped up so much. It's an Olympic year and it always happens that way," Vito said. "Finals will be throwing down for sure. You gotta go for it. You're not going to make the Olympic team placing fifth."
White left Friday's event without talking to the media.
Sixteen men advanced to Saturday's finals from the starting field of 80 riders, including Coloradans Zach Black and two-time X Games gold medalist Steve Fisher of Breckenridge, and 2002 Olympic bronze medalist JJ Thomas of Golden.
At a point in the superpipe show when it seems there isn't any room left for improvement, riders say the second act will be even better.
"There's always room for more," Vito said. "I know Shaun has a few extra tricks and I can step my riding up a little bit. It's just that you have to land it when it counts, that's what it comes down to."