Locals struggle in Grand Prix halfpipe final | SummitDaily.com

Locals struggle in Grand Prix halfpipe final

Summit County’s own Zack Black was the second-to-last rider to drop in the U.S. Snowbaording Grand Prix halfpipe finals’ second run Saturday.

Matt Ladley of Steamboat Springs sat in first place and with Ladley set to hit the pipe last, Black was the only rider left with a chance to top Ladley’s score.

Known for his tricky, technical moves, Black smoothly carved through the pipe, landing his first few hits and picking up speed through his switch backside 900 – a trick no other pro pulls. By the time he came into his last hit, it looked as though Black was pushing for a podium spot, if not a career-altering win.

Then, he clipped his board on the deck, forcing him to slip out on what would’ve been a 1080.

He had to settle for ninth place, while Ladley got his first win in a major halfpipe competition.

Greg Bretz finished second, and Louie Vito was third.

Black’s run summed up the day for the three Summit County riders in the final.

Black, J.J. Thomas and Brett Esser each qualified in promising positions through the 48-man morning preliminary round. But each had troubles in the finals.

Esser, who finished third in Friday’s slopestyle competition, had a solid first run but fell on his second. The Summit High senior finished in 11th place.

Thomas qualified in fifth place in the morning, and after he fell on his opening run, the veteran Breckenridge rider came back to stomp a second run that moved him up to sixth place.

Black qualified in second place and landed a strong first run.

Kelly Clark won the girls’ competition. Gretchen Bleiler was second, and Sarah Conrad finished third.

Copper Mountain’s Clair Bidez finished in eighth.

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