Foley was prescient. Going into the final run on Monday, the Americans stood one-two-three, with a fourth, Tommy Czeschin of Crowley Lake, Calif., in fifth place. Surely that would not hold up. One by one, however, the best riders from the rest of the world came upon hard times. Magnus Sterner of Germany lost an edge and took a bad fall. Markku Korski of Finland had incredible airs, but he couldn't sustain his soaring opening. The last threat to a U.S. sweep was Korski's countryman Heikka (the Sorceror) Sorssa, whose Mohawk earned him the sobriquet the Finn with the Fin. Needing a 42.2 to spoil the sweep, Sorssa pulled a 40.4, handing the Americans the deed certifying their ownership of the halfpipe.
While it appeared everyone in snowboarding was thrilled for Powers—his foundation provides support for underprivileged snowboarders—no one was surprised he took the gold. He grew up skiing on Vermont's Bromley Mountain, where his mother, Nancy, worked in the lodge's cafeteria. When Ross was seven, he was given his first snowboard, which he shared with his brother, Trevor. After Trevor gravitated to skiing, "I kind of took over the board," says Ross.
Often described as snowboarding's first child prodigy, Powers was only eight when he caught the attention of Jake Burton Carpenter, founder of Burton Snowboards. "I remember thinking, Ross Powers, Ross Powers, who is this kid—he's all I hear about," recalls Carpenter. "Then I saw him, and I understood all the fuss." Powers competed in his initial U.S. Open in the fourth grade (his teacher brought the entire class to watch him), won a national senior championship at 16 and took the bronze medal at the Nagano Games at 19. Burton has sponsored him for 15 years.
While Powers carved his turns at Bromley and then Stratton Mountain, Kelly Clark was upstate at Mount Snow. The Clarks live on the third floor of a house whose first floor is dedicated to the family business, TC's Tavern, named for her father, Terry, who does the cooking. ("Steaks, chops, pasta, homemade pizza, basic stuff," he says.) Kelly attended Mount Snow Academy and was ski racing by first grade. The winter she was 11, she stopped showing up at skiing practice. Terry got a call from one of her coaches. "Where's Kelly?" asked the coach.
"She's at practice," Terry said.
No, she wasn't. "So I went and checked her cubby," says Terry, "and there were her skis. Her snowboard was gone. That night I said, 'Kelly, I know how much you like snowboarding, but it's just a fad. It's never gonna take off. Stick with skiing.' "
No offense, Terry, but stick to cooking.