There will be no parade in Seabrook for professional snowboarder Scotty Lago this Olympic season.
The 2010 Olympic bronze medalist in the halfpipe fell short in his quest for a spot on the 2014 United States team yesterday. Lago needed to finish second or better at the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix — the fifth of five Olympic qualifiers — at Mammoth Mountain, Calif. He did not earn a spot on the podium after wiping out on his first run.
“Peaks and valleys,” Lago tweeted after the Olympic team was announced. “Today was a valley :( I’m bummed to say that I didn’t make the Olympic team thanks to everyone who helped me on my quest.”
Lago set himself up for a dramatic finish Friday when the United States Ski and Snowboard Association held the third and fourth Olympic qualifiers at Mammoth Mountain. Lago did not have a single podium finish heading into the fourth qualifier, so he needed to finish no worse than second in each of the final two qualifiers.
He upheld his end of the bargain in the fourth qualifier, placing second behind Danny Davis, who would have qualified for the 2010 Olympic team if not for a broken back that stemmed from an ATV accident.
After Friday’s qualifier Lago, Shaun White, Gret Bretz and Davis were still in contention for the final three spots — joining Taylor Gold, who had mathematically secured a top-three spot in the qualification standings.
“Today was like the gnarliest day ever with two contests,” Lago said Friday through the USSA. “But I’m pumped. Really, I needed it to have a shot. Well, I’m really not that pumped, because I still have to get a second on Sunday, and with Shaun competing that’s like getting first. I really like the pipe and I think I can do it, so we’ll see.”
White wrapped up his spot on the U.S. Olympic Team by winning the final selection event on Sunday. Bretz, who was off the podium Sunday, made it via strong results in the first two selection events in December.
Davis earned the fourth and final Olympic berth as a discretionary selection announced a half-hour after competition ended.
Bretz finished 12th at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, where Lago put himself on the map as a national celebrity with his bronze-medal winning performance. Lago drew further attention when he was asked to leave Vancouver by the United States Olympic Committee after photographs of the snowboarder surfaced online that the Committee deemed inappropriate.
It is unclear where Lago’s career will go from here. At 26, he is already one of the oldest snowboarders in international competitions, although his second-place performance Friday proves he is still capable of competing at the top of the sport.
Lago has been a professional snowboarder since the age of 16 in 2004, and the sport has been good to him. He has appeared in video games, reality television shows and snowboarding videos and magazines. As was evidenced throughout the Olympic qualification process, Lago is still among the most respected snowboarders on the halfpipe circuit. Many American competitors argued repeatedly that Lago should have received higher scores from the judges.
“There’s definitely all kinds of younger kids now,” Lago told The Daily News in December. “I’m literally competing against 14-year-olds. Snowboarding is a young sport, but it’s all what you want to do. If I want to, I could keep competing after the Olympics. I probably will for a few more years or so.”