Snowboarders critical of ‘junk show’ halfpipe conditions

February 10

Shaun White crashes during snowboard halfpipe practice Monday at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Just one day before the Olympic halfpipe competition is scheduled to begin, snowboarders criticized the condition of the pipe Monday night and some suggested the event be pushed back.

“Everyone is not happy right now,” said Hannah Teter, the 2006 gold medal winner in the event. “I saw everyone take a hard fall today. That never happens. …They should push it back is what they should do, and fix it so we can showcase snowboarding the way it needs to be showcased. Not as a junk show, which is what it was looking like right now.”

Shaun White, the two-time gold medal winner in the event, didn’t try to hide his frustration following practice Monday night. It was the second straight day of practice in which riders were critical of the conditions.

“It’s a little disappointing,” White said. “It’s hard to get in there and have all the tricks and have everything that you need and not be able to get to the wall. I just had a frustrating practice and I’m hoping tomorrow will be better.”

Riders said as practice progressed, the flat surface area between the walls deteriorated. Course officials couldn’t keep it smooth, and Teter likened it to a mogul field. Many riders had trouble staying vertical and gathering momentum between tricks.

“That’s not what halfpipe is supposed to be like,” Teter said. “People are supposed to be landing their tricks.”

Snowboarders said the pipe was actually improved from Saturday, the first day of practice. The walls and curves received some work, and riders say they’ve been told the course will receive further treatment and grooming overnight. The men’s competition is scheduled for Tuesday and the women’s on Wednesday.

“I don’t know the exact plan,” White said. “I’m sure there will be some sort coaches’ meeting or something. I don’t really get involved in that. I’m hoping they can do whatever they can to make it a better pipe. It’s hard to get here and see this and feel the pressure. I don’t know.”

Said Teter: “If all of us got together and we’re like,’We’re not doing it, let’s push it back,’ maybe they would. I don’t know if that’s going to happen.”

Riders said that said under the current conditions, they’d have to alter their planned runs. White said probably wouldn’t be able to throw his cab double cork 1440. “I’m hoping for the best,” White said.

Said American Danny Davis: “There’s a bunch of kids who can ride well in these conditions. I’m a little bit worried about myself riding so well in these conditions. Like I said, we’re going to ride it anyway.”

Rick Maese is a sports features writer for The Washington Post.
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