Winter sports: Shaun White bounces back to win Sprint U.S. Grand Prix
By Christopher Kamrani
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Feb 01 2013 03:03PM
Park City • The best snowboarder in the world fell.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Shaun White, a last-minute add to the 2013 Sprint U.S. Grand Prix halfpipe competition at Park City Mountain Resort, skidded out on his first run Friday morning to earn a subterranean 59.50.
"That first run was brutal," White said. "I just misjudged the last hit, and I had to squeak it out. I ended up on my face."
Luckily for him, he had one more run.
"Not twice," said Luke Mitrani, the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix overall champion who finished third. "Shaun doesn’t fall twice."
Shaun White did not fall twice.
In fact, the guy who has won six consecutive Winter X Games SuperPipe golds put down the best run of the final round, winning the men’s halfpipe final with a 97.25. White was part of an all-USA podium. Scotty Lago (94.50) finished second and Mitrani (91.75) third.
Initially, White wasn’t scheduled to participate in the event, but he said he was on the "lower side" of Olympic qualifying points, adding he "had to catch up."
"You never know with Shaun," Lago said. "He’s on his own program. We were all kind of surprised to see him here, too."
Taking the second-to-last run, White, as he so often does, soared higher than most competitors and smoothly landed each flip, twist and grab.
"All these guys are riding so amazing," he said, "I had to give it everything I had."
Prior to the finish line, he rode a lip of the Eagle Superpipe and sent a spray of snow into the air.
"Honestly," Lago said, "it’s a battle for second."
It was Lago, an Olympic bronze medalist and Seabrook, N.H., native, who put down one of the best runs in his career to achieve that second-place finish. His final trick of his second run was a frontside double 1,260 with a truck-driver grab that produced the loudest roar of the competition.
Lago, who never had landed the trick, tried it but fell at X Games a couple weeks ago.
"It’s probably the best feeling in the world," he said, "when you’re riding away and you know you landed the run you wanted to land. … That’s what you compete for."
Mitrani won the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix overall champion based on accumulated points between the finals Friday and the Grand Prix held at Copper Mountain, Colo., in early January. American Arielle Gold finished second in the women’s halfpipe finals and also was named the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix overall champion.
Both Mitrani and Gold were rewarded with a little prize — $20,000 apiece — for their championships.
"It’s been an amazing season," Gold said, "I couldn’t be happier with how things are going for me."