A Mammoth Weekend

Last year, Horizon Airlines launched the first commercial LAX-Mammoth Mountain flight. Instead of driving six hours from LA (or flying to Reno and driving four hours or flying to San Fran and driving four), you can hop on a 45-minute flight that takes off, heads west and skirts the California coast. Easily the prettiest flight in the continental U.S. I plan to become a frequent flier.

This weekend, I flew to Mammoth to cover the third of five Olympic halfpipe qualifiers. After the second contest on Wednesday, Kelly Clark became the first American rider to officially qualify for the Olympic team. Danny Davis landed what is being called the best run in snowboard history and beat Shaun White head-to-head. That doesn’t happen too often.

Then, on Saturday, Gretchen Bleiler landed a brand-new run and won her first Grand Prix stop of the season. White won his second and became the second athlete, and first male, officially named to the U.S. team. After the contest, I spent some time chatting with a very excited White for a piece I’m writing for our Olympic preview issue, which will be on newsstands in a few weeks. Stay tuned.

The Olympic team is finally starting to shape up. And, so far, it’s looking a lot like the 2006 team. Next (and final) stop, Park City, Jan. 21-24.

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