Taylor Gold and Kelly Clark win the Sprint US Grand Prix at Copper Mountain

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The Sprint US Grand Prix at Copper Mountain marked the beginning of another season for competitive snowboarding. Though it was the first major halfpipe following an Olympic year, it seemed that all of the riders left their safety runs at home.

With a firm pipe and warm air, the first stop of the Grand Prix saw competitors boosting airs more commonly seen at a midseason event. On a typical year this event is held a week later in December but the early start didn’t seem to phase the riders. Kelly Clark put down a 1080 on her first run, earning her a top score for that heat that she would keep for the rest of the day. Taylor Gold, Yiwei Zhang, and Elena Hight’s massive first-hit methods, Brett Esser’s technical doubles, and Ben Ferguson adding a heavy dose of style with tuck-knees and switch methods.

We tracked down podium walkers Kelly Clark and Ben Ferguson after the contest to get an update on what’s next at the first Dew Tour stop in Breckenridge, Colorado.

Taylor Gold and Kelly Clark win the Sprint US Grand Prix Copper Mountain
Photo: Susie Floros

What do you think is going to be different this year coming off of the Olympics?
I think the general atmosphere and the intensity level is ratcheted down. You can see how much different this event was than the first event last year. For me personally I never what to have contests be my motivator, I love them perhaps more than any other person but at the same time I never want them to by why I do things. Like today I had the contest won and I still wanted to do a victory lap, I still wanted to push myself because that’s what it’s really about. So in a non-Olympic year, personally I feel like I have time to work on my snowboarding. I hope that’s what we see this year in competitive snowboarding, I hope we see progression, see people taking risks and letting it run. I hope we’re able to carry the sport forward.

What do you have for goals outside of contests this season?
I have more time in non-Olympic years to get out of the box people put me in. I love riding pow, freeriding and different elements of the sport that people don’t get a chance to see me in that often. So I’m looking forward to getting some more opportunities in the backcountry and have a more well-rounded season.

Dew Tour is this weekend, any big plans for that?
That pipe is a big steeper and longer than this one, so I love that you can run it a little bit more. When you make mistakes with a steep pipe you can make up for them with speed pretty quickly. I definitely prefer steeper halfpipes. So I’m looking forward to that and I want to continue to do runs that I will be able to build on. By the time I get to X Games I want to have spent some time working on those cab spins. So I’ll start next week at Breck and I’ll keep going all the way through.

Taylor Gold and Kelly Clark win the Sprint US Grand Prix Copper Mountain
Ben Ferguson. Photo: Susie Floros

So coming off of Peace Park I hear you were feeling pretty good.
Yeah Peace Park was awesome. It was a great time hanging out with the buds and just snowboarding, it’s a good way to end the season.

How did you take that and bring it into your run today?
Just trying to have fun and be creative even though it is in a contest environment. Just trying to have fun.

Are you going to be at Dew Tour?
Yeah I’ll be at Dew Tour.

Have you thought about what’s going to go down?
Well apparently I need some harder tricks because these fuckers are crazy, but yeah I’m just going to go ride and have fun with the homies.

Results:

Men
First – Taylor Gold
Second – Yiwei Zhang
Third – Ben Ferguson

Women
First – Kelly Clark
Second – Arielle Gold
Third – Hannah Teter

Taylor Gold and Kelly Clark win the Sprint US Grand Prix Copper Mountain
Ben Ferguson ended his run in style. Sequence: Jens Heig

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