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HEAVY SNOW, WIND MOVES MOUNT BACHELOR GRAND PRIX TO SUNDAY - Shaun White, Gretchen Bleiler lead third stop qualification

MOUNT BACHELOR, OR. (Jan. 7) - High winds and steady snow Saturday forced organizers to interrupt the third halfpipe contest in the Chevrolet U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix, the sole Olympic-qualifying series for halfpipe riders. Everything was rescheduled for Sunday, along with the Paul Mitchell Progression Session.

The women’s group had completed its first of two rounds and two men had gone through their first run when the continuing snow, which arrived at midday in greater force than predicted, forced a halt to the competition. Winds all but eliminated visibility and the jury stopped the contest.

Organizers said they would try to stage the pipe contest Sunday, the scheduled weather day in the Mount Bachelor Grand Prix stop.

Earlier in the week, the top men’s qualifiers were Shaun White (Carlsbad, CA), who won the first two ‘pipe contests at Breckenridge, Colo., before Christmas, followed by Keir Dillon (also Carlsbad), Scott Lago (Seabrook, NH) and reigning Olympic champion Ross Powers (South Londonderry, VT). Leading the women’s qualifying round were Gretchen Bleiler (Snowmass, CO), who won the opening Grand Prix contest in Breckenridge, followed by ’02 Olympic gold medalist Kelly Clark (Mount Snow, VT), Hannah Teter (Belmont, VT), and Tricia Byrnes (Stratton, VT).

Officials said Sunday’s schedule would start at 10 a.m. PT with a practice session, 11 o’clock start and the Progression Session - with a modified slopestyle of one jump and one rail trick - starting with practice at 2 p.m. and a 2:45 start for the competition.