USA's Kaitlyn Farrington wins halfpipe gold

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (USA TODAY) -- American Kaitlyn Farrington won gold in her first Olympics, taking the women's halfpipe competition with a score of 91.75.

The 23-year-old posted the score on her second run and had to wait as three gold medalists took their runs after. But none could top Farrington.

Defending gold medalist Torah Bright scored 91.5 on her second run to move into second place. On the last run of the night, 2002 gold medalist Kelly Clark put down the only 1080 of the contest and scored a 90.75 to take bronze.

American Hannah Teter, the 2006 gold medalist, finished fourth.

Suze Farrington immediately arranged to travel to Sochi after her daughter was named to the Olympic team after the final U.S.qualifier in January.

On Wednesday, Farrington's parents traveled 2 ½ hours from the coast in Sochi to Rosa Khutor Extreme Park to watch their daughter, who turned in the best run in the semifinals to advance to the final.

Even before the final round began, the Farringtons had a hard time envisioning their daughter winning the gold medal.

Perhaps that's because Farrington had a hard time imagining it as well. When she arrived in Sochi, her initial goal was just to make the finals, she said.

It wasn't until after posting the top score in the semifinals that Farrington even let herself believe she could win a medal.

Asked how she was going to celebrate her unexpected medal, "I'm going to dance my face off," she said.

As Clark's score, which was good for third place, was announced, Gary and Suze Farrington began screaming. "Are you kidding me? My Little girl," Gary Farrington shouted. "I'm exhausted."

Kaitlyn Farrington, who was raised on a ranch in Idaho, began skiing at age 3 and barrel racing at 5. She still rides horses frequently, her mother says.

Entering the competition, Clark, 30, was the heavy favorite to win gold here as she became the most dominant rider after Vancouver.

Clark easily was the first to qualify for the U.S. team, and she has landed on the podium in 28 of the past 34 contests since Dec. 2010.

After the first run of the halfpipe final, Teter led all riders with a first run score of 90.5 while Farrington had second with 85.75.

Clark had an uncharacteristic fall on her first run, hitting the lip of the pipe with her board and falling to the flat bottom. She scored a 48.25 and was in 10th place.

Bright competed in slopestyle earlier in the week and also qualified in snowboardcross.


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