Shaun White won an epic Grand Prix at Colorado’s Copper Mountain last weekend to stake an early claim for his place on the USA’s 2010 Winter Olympics team.
Five events in the next month – the Grand Prix, plus two events apiece at Mammoth Mountain in California, and then in Calgary – are the shop window for America’s halfpipe hopefuls, and White made the best possible start in Friday's qualifying, posting a near-perfect score of 49.5pts.
In the main event, White thrilled crowd and judges alike in blustery conditions with a frontside air to backside 900, frontside double cork 1080, cab double cork 1080, frontside 1080 and then a cab 1080 to finish. Despite the challenge of reigning Grand Prix champion Louie Vito and of Kelly Clark, it was first blood to White as the difficult conditions saw many of the other competitors failing to land tricks and falling.
'This whole past season, I've been thinking about the Olympics.' – Shaun White
Afterwards, the reigning Olympic champion revealed his bout with uncharacteristic nerves, with the forthcoming Winter Games in British Columbia in February looming large.
“This whole past season, I've been thinking about this,” White said of the Olympics. “It's not so much getting the nerves out, it's the anxious feeling. It's the waiting.”
White now has two consecutive events on home snow to continue to impress the U.S. selectors, the first a night event on January 7 at Mammoth Mountain.
Keep up with Shaun’s progress at shaunwhite.com.