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Olympic Snowboarding: A Clean Sweep for US - 2002-02-12

The U.S. men's snowboarding team has swept the medals in the halfpipe event at the Winter Olympics in Park City, Utah. The achievement is one that has not been equaled in 46 years.

Ross Powers was the first American snowboarder to win a medal when he captured the bronze in the men's halfpipe in Nagano, Japan, four years ago. The halfpipe has athletes sliding down a huge trough cut in the snow, while performing tricks or maneuvers, such as double or triple twists, while in the air. Athletes also get so-called "airs," or flights, above the lip of the pipe.

Monday, no one did it better that Ross Powers, whose first run earned a score of 46.1. The score held up through two rounds of competition, with American Danny Kass, the only athlete to come close, finishing 3.6 behind Powers. J.J. Thomas of the United States won the bronze, four points behind the winner.

Mr. Powers said after the competition that the sweep shows that snowboarding has arrived as a legitimate Olympic sport. "I guess we have kind of been leading the way," he said. "Whether it is in the halfpipe, or in the videos, and all that stuff. Not dissing on [showing disrespect to] any other countries, some of the Canadians, Norwegians, Finnish guys. I mean there are so many good snowboarders, but just to have the three of us do well today, where it really matters, is huge for all of us."

Danny Kass, a 19-year-old spray-painting, snowboarder from New Jersey said the idea of being part of an historical achievement has not yet sunk in. "I was just excited to get to come to the Olympics, and getting a medal is just downright radical," he said. "And I am also really, really happy to be part of the United States' sweep. And to be on the podium with J.J. and Ross is just a pleasure."

This is the first time American men have swept the medals in a Winter Olympic event since 1956. That year, in Cortina D'ampezzo, Italy, Hayes Alan Jenkins, Ronald Robertson and Jenkins' younger brother, David Jenkins, took all three medals in men's figure skating.