Kauai born teen shreds to sixth place

Kaua’i-born Elena Hight finished sixth overall in the women’s halfpipe finals Monday at the 2006 Winter Olympics.

At 16 years of age, Hight is the youngest member of the U.S. women’s snowboarding team, and finished with a best score of 37.8.

The United States took gold in this event led by Hannah Teter who turned in a best score of 46.4, and silver by Gretchen Bleiler who turned in a best score of 43.3

Kjersti Buaas of Norway took bronze on a best score of 42.0.

Hight finished below American Kelly Clark and Australian Torah Bright, who turned in best scores of 41.1 and 41.0 respectively, according to scores posted on NBC.com.

Because her parents were looking for a change in climate, Hight moved to South Lake Tahoe when she was 7, states a biography posted on NBC.com. She reportedly “hit the slopes right away” when she arrived in California.

Her dad, a self-taught surfer, taught her how to snowboard when she was 6, and Hight grew up riding at Heavenly Mountain, entering local USSA events.

Hight competed in her first Grand Prix event in 2003 at age 13, and is now based at Mammoth Mountain where she lives in a condo with some snowboarding friends.

“It’s pretty crazy” that her parents have enough trust in her to let her live on her own, she says on the Web site. Hight returns to her family’s home during the summers.

Hight has been home-schooled for the past three seasons, doing her course-work through independent study. Textbooks and work-books are sent to her, and she returns the tests under a program that is designed for students who travel a lot. Most of her schoolwork is done in the spring and fall.

Hight says her favorite hobby is sleeping, and also enjoys skateboarding and wakeboarding.

When not competing, Hight tries to lead a “normal teenage life, doing things like going to the movies. Her favorites include “Napoleon Dynamite” and “Pretty Woman.”

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