TIGNES, France -- After two years of hearing the words "Kelly Clark wins [insert snowboard contest name here]" over and over again, it would be easy to suspect that the reason she keeps winning, as she did here again Wednesday night, is that the women she's riding against maybe just aren't that good. This would be such an egregiously false assumption, however, that it could only be called "dead wrong."
It is truly impressive to watch Clark ride. She goes bigger out of the pipe than any other woman, and not only that, but she does it on her 1080. Her winning run scored a full 10 points above the competition and deserved it. But Clark's competition, although distanced on the scoreboard Wednesday night, is fierce. It is really just a matter of time before they end her winning streak or push her to up the ante even higher.
Take, for example, Elena Hight, who took silver in the Winter X Tignes pipe. Just last week she bested Clark at the U.S. Open with solid back-to-back 900s that she appears to have now on lock. Her run Wednesday had back-to-back 7s, back-to-back 9s and an alley-oop rodeo. Her run was smooth, her tricks were solid, and she proved that her win last week was absolutely not a fluke.
Winter X Aspen 2010 SuperPipe gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington threw three 900s in her run to take bronze. Queralt Castellet is the only other woman to land a 1080 in competition, and she threw one here, but it wasn't enough to get her on the podium. And even though Ellery Hollingsworth (who took third at the U.S. Open last week behind Hight and Clark) didn't medal here, she deserves a mention because not only was she was the only woman throwing Michalchuks, she has great style that makes her really fun to watch. Together, these four women are all legitimately gunning for the top spot.
But this night was Clark's night, and her win here at Winter X Tignes is her 17th in the past two years. You can't argue with that. The other ladies may be hard on her heels, but there is no denying that right now, Clark is simply the best.
"I'm really happy with my riding tonight," Clark said at the bottom of the halfpipe. "I fell first run and came back under pressure. That's the most technical run I've done in a contest. I've never done my 10 third hit either. All the girls rode so great. I'm looking forward to next season."
So are we.