Hight 'stoked' with halfpipe performance
By Patrick Garrity
Gannett News Service
By Patrick Garrity
BARDONECCHIA, Italy — Vancouver, get ready for Elena Hight.
The 16-year-old missed out on an Olympic medal in women's snowboard halfpipe in Italy, but she served notice that the 2010 Winter Games better make room for her.
Hight, a South Lake Tahoe, Nev., resident who was born on Kaua'i, finished in sixth place yesterday, watching U.S. teammates Hannah Teter and Gretchen Bleiler land gold and silver and Kelly Clark just miss completing an American sweep by finishing in fourth place.
All told, a job well done, Hight said.
"The U.S. team came here with an extremely strong team, and everyone killed it; everyone rode really, really hard, put it all on the line, and we're all stoked for each other," she said.
Hight traveled to Italy with 15 family members and friends, including parents Mike and Myra. She put a scare into the entourage when she missed qualifying for the final in the first round. A second-round score of 36.8 sent her on.
"I was super nervous," Hight said. "It kind of started to get to me in between runs. It was just so long to wait, and you're just sitting there watching everyone."
Riding third in the 12-rider final, Hight nailed a frontside 900 — two and one-half rotations over the lip of the halfpipe — but lost her groove later in the run and finished the first of the two rounds in seventh.
With Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" filling the stadium — "Danny (Kass) went with 'Born in the U.S.A.' and I wanted to go with some good, old-school American rock, too" — Hight bettered her first-round score and her position, posting a score of 37.8 with back-to-back 720s.
"I came here pretty much with no expectations," Hight said. "I'm pretty young to be here in the first place, so I just kind of came to have fun, ride as well as I can and I'm stoked with how I rode."
As for Vancouver in 2010, is it on her list of things to do?
"Hopefully. I don't even know what I'm doing tomorrow, let alone in four years. I would love to go again, and I won't be too old, that's for sure," said Hight, who will be 20 when the Winter Games roll around again.
"I'll be legal in Canada. That's motivation."