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This Day In Sports…February 12, 2014, 10 years ago today:
Kaitlyn Farrington, who grew up on a ranch near Bellevue and cut her snowboarding teeth at Sun Valley, wins the gold medal in the women’s halfpipe at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Farrington’s second run will be long remembered, including a 900 spin and corked backflip. She didn’t fall, and her score of 91.75 edged defending gold medalist Torah Bright of Australia. Farrington also bested former gold medalists Kelly Clark and Hannah Teter. Farrington said she prepared for that second run by watching a good-luck video put together by her fans from Sun Valley.
Safe to say Farrington was an upset winner. She was almost on the outside looking in before becoming the final competitor named to the U.S. snowboarding team at the last qualifying event that January at Mammoth Mountain, CA. Then Farrington had to get through qualifying in Sochi to make the field of 12 in the finals. As she wound her way through the semifinals, she started to believe she could medal. “Now to leave as a gold medalist, I’m just beside myself about it,” Farrington said.
Less than a year after winning gold, Farrington was diagnosed with congenital cervical stenosis, a spinal disease that ended her competitive career. For the past six years she’s lived a quiet life in Whitefish, MT, snowboarding for fun (with strict orders from doctors to never leave the ground). Farrington is not quiet when it comes to activism, though. According to “Mountain Outlaw” magazine, Farrington is one of more than 200 professional athletes that make up the athlete alliance for Protect Our Winters, a nonprofit founded in 2007 with a mission of mobilizing the outdoor community to act against climate change.
Farrington’s Sochi breakthrough marked the first Winter Games gold for an Idahoan since Picabo Street, who also perfected her skills on Baldy, took the super G in Nagano in 1998. The only other gold medalists with Idaho ties have been Boise’s Bill Johnson in the downhill in 1984 and Sun Valley’s Gretchen Fraser in the women’s slalom in 1948. There’s a black diamond run at Sun Valley called “Kaitlyn’s Bowl” in Farrington’s honor.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)
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