Halfpipe Crew Unveiled at Copper
By Elizabeth Karam
COPPER MOUNTAIN, CO (Nov. 30) - On the eve of the season opening Visa U.S. Halfpipe Grand Prix, U.S. Snowboarding's 2011 halfpipe teams were announced Tuesday alongside the cavernous 22-foot halfpipe at Copper Mountain. Highlighting the 17 riders named to the Pro and Rookie Team rosters are five Olympians including two-time Olympic medalist Kelly Clark (Mount Snow, VT) Olympic silver medalist Gretchen Bleiler (Aspen, CO) and two-time Grand Prix champion Louie Vito (Sandy, UT).
The team was in Copper tuning up for the Saturday, Dec. 10 Visa U.S. Halfpipe Grand Prix, the opening event of the three-stop tour.
"With five Olympians returning to the Pro Team and the amazing talent on the Rookie Team, the 2011 U.S. Snowboarding Halfpipe program is better than ever." said U.S. Snowboarding Director Jeremy Forster. "We're looking forward to carrying the momentum from the 2010 Olympics into this season."
Returning to the eight rider Pro Team are two Olympic medalists, Clark and Bleiler, plus three fellow Olympians. Among those riders are Vito, World Cup winner Greg Bretz (Mammoth Lakes, CA), 2010 Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix runner-up Elena Hight (South Lake Tahoe, CA) and Kaitlyn Farrington (Sun Valley, ID), who came on strong at the end of the 2010 season earning Pro Team status.
"I'm really stoked to be on the Team," said Vito. "We have a good squad of people on the Team and it's not just about the Olympic year, it's every year."
Vito should know. The Ohio native already owns a pair of season-long Grand Prix crowns and helped lead the charge among riders pioneering the double corks during the Olympic season. Vito's charismatic personality pervades the sport and was showcased a year ago when he was a standout on ABC's Dancing with the Stars dancing with Chelsea Hightower.
While Clark and Bleiler were in the spotlight once again last year, the rookie Farrington was making her own waves with a post-Olympic gold in the Euro-X Games, the Dew Tour title and second in the U.S. Open.
Hoping to join former Rookie Team riders, Vito and Farrington, on the Pro Team in the near future are nine riders from the ages 16-20. Like the Pro Team, the Rookie crew consists of many returning riders including Matt Ladley (Steamboat Springs, CO) and Zack Black (Breckenridge, CO) and newcomer Paul Brichta (Burnsville, MN).
The Rookie Team, first deployed for the 2008 season has been an amazing proving ground for young talent.
Although 2011 isn't an Olympic year, the stakes are still high for these riders as they begin to progress the next wave of tricks that will be launched in 2014 in Sochi. The 2010 season was all about the double cork, make sure to stay tuned to see what will be the tricks of 2011.
The teams will ride a diverse slate of events, foremost among them the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix with halfpipe stops in Copper Mountain and Mammoth Mountain. Other majors on tap include the Dew Tour, X Games and U.S. Open. The Rookie Team will also mix in some World Cups and Revolution Tour stops.
2011 U.S. Snowboard Halfpipe Roster
(Name, Hometown, Date of Birth)
* Denotes Olympian
Clair Bidez, Minturn, CO, 8/7/1987
Gretchen Bleiler, Aspen, CO, 4/10/1981*
Greg Bretz, Mammoth Lakes, CA, 12/19/1990*
Kelly Clark, Mount Snow, VT, 7/26/1983*
Kaitlyn Farrington, Sun Valley, ID, 12/18/1989
Elena Hight, South Lake Tahoe, CA, 8/17/1989*
Ellery Hollingsworth, Stratton, VT, 9/2/1991
Louie Vito, Sandy, UT, 3/20/1988*
Lizzy Beerman, Weston, VT, 7/18/1991 **
Dylan Bidez, Minturn, CO, 9/11/1990
Zack Black, Breckenridge, CO, 8/1/1990
Paul Brichta, Burnsville, MN, 8/24/1991 **
Matt Ladley, Steamboat Springs, CO, 5/17/1991
Kelly Marren, Hillsborough, CA, 8/22/1991
Madeline Schaffrick, Steamboat Springs, CO, 4/24/1994
Broc Waring, Edwards, CO, 6/3/1992
Ben Watts, Bend, OR, 9/6/1993
** Attending Westminster College in Salt Lake City as a part of U.S. Snowboarding's partnership program.