KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – After the men's snowboarding team failed to medal for the first time in Olympic competition, the onus was on the women to build up the United States' flagging medal table.
They did that – and brought the U.S. its third gold of the Sochi Games, all of them in snowboarding.
Kaitlyn Farrington won her first gold medal while Australia's Torah Bright won silver and the United States' Kelly Clark won bronze.
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The 24-year-old Farrington, who grew up on an Idaho cattle ranch, stuck a 91.75 on her second run to move past Hannah Teter, who fell on her second run after scoring a 90.5 on her initial pass. In winning, Farrington beat the previous three Olympic halfpipe gold medalists: Bright (2010 Vancouver Games), Teter (2006 Turin Games) and Clark (2002 Salt Lake City Games).
"I think watching the three gold medalists come down after me was a crazy feeling," Farrington said. "I was happy they all landed their runs because that's what I wanted to do. But I did not expect to come down on top."
Bright fell just short of Farrington's score, posting a 91.5 in her second run. Clark, the last rider of the night, knocked Teter from the bronze with a score of 90.75.
In a sport with few young stars, and none in the finals under 20, the old guard again dominated with tricks similar to past victories. One night after Iouri Podladtchikov won the men's competition with a 1440-degree-spinning-and-flipping trick, the women topped out at 900-degree spins, and none uncorked the two-flip double corks standard among the men.
"I'm so proud of Kaitlyn and so happy for her to come out and walk away a champion," Clark said. "She loves snowboarding more than most people and it's refreshing to see someone who does it for the fun of it to walk away with a medal."