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U.S. wins silver, bronze in women's halfpipe

Australia's Torah Bright soars to a gold medal in the women's halfpipe. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / MCT)
Australia's Torah Bright soars to a gold medal in the women's halfpipe. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / MCT)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Her Olympic preparation was not exactly ideal — two crashes and two concussions in the span of a few days.

Who knew what snowboarder Torah Bright was thinking when she was spending time in a concussion-imposed exile at an Aspen, Colo., hospital in January.

Dreams of Olympic gold for the Aussie native?

Most certainly ... not bright.

Flash forward to Thursday at Cypress Mountain. Bright, who had fallen on her first run, stood at the top of the halfpipe course on a chilly night and seized the Olympic moment.

She pulled off a sensational second run to secure the gold medal, scoring 45.0 points, of a possible 50, putting down a series of big tricks, including a switchback 720.

Winning the silver and bronze were two former Olympic champions for the United States. Hannah Teter, a champion four years ago, took the silver, and 2002 gold medalist Kelly Clark captured the bronze.

Teter had led after the first run and put down a clean second run. But even she knew how high Bright had set the bar and the recognition was on her face when she finished.

By virtue of her first run tumble, Bright was the first rider down the course for the second, and it served to put down big pressure on the rest of the field. Americans Elena Hight and Gretchen Bleiler, a silver medalist four years ago in Italy, both fell.

It was a crashed-marred night. Hight fell on both of her runs, as did Bleiler, who had a scary-looking tumble when she crashed off the deck of the pipe on her second run but appeared to be OK.

Clark and Bright both fell on their first run.

Clark ran into problems early, struggling with her line and tumbled on her 1080 trick. Bright fell on a switch-back side 720 and Bleiler tumbled on her inverted 720.

Teter, as it turned out, was the one rare riders to pull off two clean runs in the final.

The showing was a testament to the strength of the U.S. halfpipe riders — men and women. On Wednesday, Shaun White (gold) and Scott Lago (bronze) started the momentum.

One of the top international contenders did not make it to the women's final.

Spanish snowboarder Queralt Castellet crashed in a training run after halfpipe qualifying and was taken to a nearby hospital.

"She fainted as she was brought to the closest hospital. Now, she is almost OK," said Dani Fernandez, Spain's halfpipe coach. "Still, she won't be competing in the final."

Spanish media reports suggested that she wanted to compete, but in this case, good sense prevailed.

Castellet had advanced directly to the final — not needing to compete in the semifinal round — after taking third in qualifying.

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