STRATTON MOUNTAIN, Vt. (AP) – Danny Kass and Torrah Bright recovered after each falling twice and won the halfpipe titles Saturday at the 27th U.S. Open Snowboard Championships.

Kass scored 93.5 on his third and final run after falling on the first two and became the first man to win the Open halfpipe five times.

“It feels good to come out again and put together some runs,” Kass said after the last event of the season. “I was feeling it today for sure.”

Defending women’s champion Bright also fell on her first two runs and then soared to a 96 to win her third halfpipe crown, edging Kelly Clark, the only other three-time winner.

Kass’ job was made easier when Shaun White, the 2006 Olympic gold medalist who won the Open halfpipe the past three years, pulled out Saturday morning with a severely sprained left ankle. He said he injured it during training last week in Colorado.

Kass last won in 2005, and did not compete the past three years when White won. Kass said he knew what he had to do on his last run, and just wanted to get down the pipe.

Bright faced a similar situation after falling twice on the sunny day with temps in the mid 30s.

“I was just happy to stay on my feet and finish a run,” she said. “I knew I could do that run.”

Kass, 26, of Portland, Ore., overtook Peetu Piiroinen of Finland, who finished second with a run of 91.83 on his second attempt. With Kass starting seventh and Piiroinen 15th the Finn knew the score he had to beat on his final run, but managed only a 90.17.

Luke Mitrani of Mammouth Lakes, Calif., finished third at 89,83.

Kass also won the title in 2001, 2002 and 2004, and took silver medals in the 2002 and 2006 Olympics. He is expected to compete for the 2010 U.S. Olympic team.

The best score of three runs by each boarder is used to determine the placing.

Bright, 22, an Australian living in Salt Lake City who won in 2006 and last year, also came up big on her final run after Clark had a 93.3 on her first run before the crowd estimated at about 15,000. Like Kass, she said she didn’t try anything special to boost her score.

Clark, of nearby West Dover, Vt., the 2007 winner and 2002 Olympic gold medalist, had one more chance as the last to run, but fell. Clark said she tried a frontside 9 for the first time in competition, “and that’s what I crashed on.”

Ellery Hollingsworth finished third at 87.

AP-ES-03-21-09 1918EDT


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