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LDS snowboarder Torah Bright wins gold in halfpipe

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Two more LDS Olympians competed in their respective sports at the Vancouver Games on Thursday, Feb. 18.Australian Torah Bright overcame a fall on her first run Thursday evening to win a gold medal in the women's halfpipe.In women's skeleton, Noelle Pikus-Pace of Eagle Mountain, Utah, was in fifth place after two runs Thursday. The final two runs in that competition will be Friday evening.

Bright brought a glint of sanity to a messy night on the halfpipe. She walked away with — what else? — a shiny, Olympic gold medal.Under pressure after falling, the Aussie

strung five technically superior jumps together on her second attempt

and landed them all for the perfect capper to a four-year ride full of

injuries, experiments and, ultimately, victory.She scored 45

points to defeat defending champion Hannah Teter by 2.6. The 2002

champion, Kelly Clark, fell on her first run, hit the deck on an

awkward landing on her second but still took bronze.Bright,

the 23-year-old originally from Cooma, Australia, won without trying

the "double cork" — the double-flipping jump she'd been practicing all

year, one that's increasingly popular on the men's side but hasn't yet

been tried by a woman in competition.But she wasn't looking to

make history — only to win gold, and she was more than good enough to

do that on a night when all the top contenders fell.That

included 2006 silver medalist Gretchen Bleiler, who fell once while

trying her inverted 720 on the first run, then again on the second when

the nose of her board caught the lip and she landed hard on the deck

then crashed back into the halfpipe.Clark fell on her first run, as did Bright

— while she was trying a switch-backside 720, a two-spin jump during

which she spends most of her air time with no view of the wall. It's an

amazingly difficult trick that even most men won't try.The fall

left her with a score of 5.2, in last place, which forced her to rush

back up the hill and go first in the second round. She dusted herself

off, did the same progression of tricks, landed them all, then waited

for nearly 30 minutes to see if someone could beat her.__IMAGE2__Nobody

did, and when Teter closed the night by losing speed toward the end of

her trip, giving her no chance to soar high above the pipe, the deal

was done.Bright shared a long, sweet

hug with her brother and coach, Ben, and Australia — a land not known

so much for its snow sports — had its first gold of these Winter Games.

Pikus-Pace was seventh after her first run, but had the fourth-best time on her second run, for an overall fifth standing, 0.55 seconds behind the leader and only 0.16 second out of a medal spot.