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Farrington wins halfpipe gold for U.S.

SOCHI, Russia-- Kaitlyn Farrington had done all she could.

The Idaho-born snowboarder led after her last run in Wednesday night's women's halfpipe. But backed up at the start, like three eagerly idling Porsches, were the last three women to win this Olympic event.

But neither Americans Kelly Clark and Hannah Teter nor Australia's Torah Bright -- respectively, the 2002, 2006 and 2010 gold-medal winners -- could top Farrington's score of 91.75.

"I think watching all three of those gold-medal winners come down after me was a really crazy feeling," said Farrington, 24. "I was happy they all landed their runs because that's what I wanted to do. But I did not expect to come out on top.

The victory at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park came at the end of another disappointing day for Americans.

Speedskater Shani Davis finished eighth in the 1,000-meter event. The U.S. women's hockey team lost to archrival Canada. And skier Julia Mancuso, who won a super-combined bronze earlier, failed to medal in the women's downhill.

All three of the U.S. gold medals at these Olympics have been won at the snowboarding venue, though the most heavily favored U.S. athlete to perform here, Shaun White, was not among them. The two-time gold-medalist in the event finished fourth in Tuesday's halfpipe.

But led by Farrington in the women's halfpipe, the U.S. snowboarders took three of the top four spots on a course whose necessary icy sheen had been diminished by the ongoing warm weather here.

Only silver-medalist Bright, who finished just .25 points behind the winner, prevented an American sweep.

Clark, in her fourth and final Olympics, took the bronze on the night's final run, edging out teammate Teter with a score of 90.75.

Farrington, raised on an Idaho cattle ranch, had been second to Teter after the first round of the finals. But she nailed her last run -- a testing program that included several backward spins -- and took a lead she would not even relinquish to a trio of Olympic champions.

"I'm so proud of Kaitlyn and so happy for here to come out and walk away a champion," said Clark. "She loves snowboarding more than most people and it's refreshing to see someone who does it for the fun of it to walk away with a gold medal."

For a second night in succession, workers laid down a coat of a water on the course, hoping it would refreeze. Instead, the competitors reported a halfpipe base that was much slushier than they prefer.

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