By Tawnya Schultz
Both the men and women fought a heated battle this afternoon at the Snowboard Superpipe Preliminaries at the Toyota Championship at Northstar-at-Tahoe. Ultimately is was Torah Bright and Steve Fisher who placed first with 96 and 95.5 points, respectively.
Steve’s score, which was tacked to his first run, went untouched throughout the competition. Steve's overall amplitude--and especially that smooth backside 900 on the last hit--were what the judges wanted to see. Burton rider Mason Aguirre, who came in just two points behind Steve, stomped his signature flat spin backside 500. The Russian Iouri Podlachikov secured third place by landing back-to-back 10s, which are pretty much requisite among top-three finishers at halfpipe events nowadays. "I can't wait to get back out here tomorrow and ride the pipe again," Iouri said. "It should be a good time."
Exempt from the Men's Prelim were Shaun White and Scotty Lago, whose top-notch performances at previous stops prequalified them for the Final. Scotty peeped the competition from the sidelines where he said he's ready for what tomorrow will bring. "Everyone was riding so clean and great today, it was so fun to watch," Scotty said. "Big things are going to happen." The overall Dew Cup title is largely in Shaun's favor due to his tour-wide point accumulation. Scotty Lago is Shaun's closest competition for the Dew Cup, yet not only would Scotty have to win the tomorrow's Final, Shaun would have to earn less than 55 points--about a 9th place score--to lose the Dew Cup to Scotty.
As for the Women's division, Torah Bright laid down her finely-honed Winter X Games 13 run to garner those 96 points. South Lake Tahoe's Elena Hight finished in second with 94 points; Weston, Vermont's Elizabeth Beerman came in third. Rounding out the last two Final-qualifying positions were Burton- and Nike 6.0-youngin' Ellery Hollingsworth and Belmont, Vermont's Hannah Teeter.
Hannah had to ditch her first run after landing in the flats on her first hit. She came back during her second run to place fifth--a standing that just qualified her for the Final. "After my first run I was a little worried," Hannah said. "But I went back up there and got amped up and it ended up paying off. I'm definitely stoked for tomorrow."
Kelly Clark, who's prequalified for tomorrow's Final, sat at the Superpipe base as the women threw down during the Prelim. With a 25-point-lead, Kelly is the most favored Dew Cup-contender. Hannah Teter stands as Kelly's sole competition, yet Hannah would have to place first at tomorrow's Final--and Kelly fourth--to effectively stage a coup.
NBC Sports will provide live broadcasts tomorrow of both Men's and Women's Snowboard Superpipe Finals from 4 to 6 p.m., EST.