Krasnaya Polyana, Russia • Sugar House remains the world headquarters of women’s halfpipe snowboarding.
Salt Lake City’s quaint neighborhood can claim another Olympic gold medalist, thanks to Kaitlyn Farrington’s narrow victory over fellow resident Torah Bright and the rest of an elite field in Wednesday night’s event at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.
They live only a couple of blocks apart, and Farrington and Bright — the defending champion, who competes for her native Australia — were barely separated on the scoreboard. They stood together in the finish area, awaiting the score for 2002 winner Kelly Clark of Vermont, already happy to know they were assured of medals.
"It doesn’t matter, the color of the medal," Bright said later. "We’re here united, as shredding babes."
Just the same, Farrington’s gold medal definitely justified her parents’ funding of her snowboarding career. She grew up on a cattle ranch in a small town near Sun Valley, Idaho, and weekly livestock auctions helped support her pursuit of the sport.
"I’m sure they do not miss those cows today," Farrington said, just before her parents, Gary and Suze, arrived at the medalists’ news conference. Her mother held a "Cowgirl Up" sign with Kaitlyn’s picture.
The ranching life and rodeo competition in her youth "definitely made me a tough girl," Farrington said.
In September, when she appeared at the Team USA Media Summit in Park City as a 2014 Olympic hopeful, Farrington said, "I never thought I’d be at the level I am today." And then she made the U.S. team by winning the final qualifying event.
Farrington, 24, initially moved to Salt Lake City to attend Westminster College. She left school after a semester, but stayed in town for the sake of accessibility to the halfpipe in Park City.
Bright’s sister, Rowena, became a University of Utah skier after competing for Australia in the 2002 Olympics. Bright soon joined her and has lived in Salt Lake City ever since.
As they stood together on the podium during the flower ceremony, Clark imagined the gold medal Farrington will receive Thursday and said, "Wow, we’ve all got one of these now."
And to complete the four-Olympiad cycle, 2006 gold medalist Hannah Teter of the United States finished fourth. The convergence of champions was remarkable, and so was the competition. Farrington trailed Teter after the first run, in a format that uses the best of two scores. Farrington improved to a 91.75 score in her second run, and held off Bright (91.5) and Clark (90.75), while Teter could not top her own 90.5 mark.
The gold medal is the third in snowboarding in these Games for the Park City-based U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association — even without a contribution from the celebrated Shaun White, who finished fourth in the men’s halfpipe event Tuesday. Jamie Anderson and Park City’s Sage Kostenburg won the women’s and men’s slopestyle events on a nearby course.
Clark’s bronze medal gives her a full set, earned over four Olympiads. Bright still has one more event to come, Monday’s snowboardcross competition.
"Wow, what a journey this has been," she said, having also competed in the slopestyle event.
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