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U.S. Wins 2 Bronze; Drug Talk Encircles Halfpipe

By Rachel Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 12, 1998; Page C1

SHIGA KOGEN, Japan, Feb. 12 (Thursday) — Under heavy rains and clouds of controversy, snowboarding concluded competition at the Winter Olympics today with bronze medals for Americans Shannon Dunn and Ross Powers in the halfpipe competition. Germany's Nicola Thost won the women's gold and Gian Simmen of Switzerland the men's gold.

Throughout the event, talk of scores mixed with talk of Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati, who is appealing the IOC's decision to revoke his giant slalom gold medal. He was disqualified Wednesday after testing positive for marijuana shortly after Sunday's event.

"It stinks because it happened the day before our event," Canadian rider Tara Teigen said. "You want to try to focus, and it's all anyone wants to ask us about."

The gray weather that cloaked the start of the event turned to rain by the middle of the first qualifying run, making the snow at Kanbayashi Snowboard Park thick and compacted for most of the day. Riders had to go through two qualifying runs down a large In the competition, riders rode back and forth down the chute — measuring 120 meters long and 15.4 meters wide, with walls 3.5 meters high — performing a series of skateboard-style maneuvers with names like McTwist, Alley-oop, Backside, Indy Grab, Stale Fish and Mute Grab. They were then graded on their height in the air, their rotations in the air, landings and overall technique.

"I was a little nervous before it began but not so much more than any other contest," said American Cara-Beth Burnside, who finished fourth. "I like crowds."

"I was going for the amplitude. I think they're scoring girls better on amplitude now than they used to. Before girls were getting in more hits but not much air."

Scores were calculated for the first run, with the top contenders moved into the final round. The rest of the competitors scores were erased, and they competed in another qualifying run. A top group was again moved into the final round, which consisted of two runs. As thunder rolled, eight riders made the women's final round; 16 participated in the men's.

"The qualifiers are always the hardest," Dunn said. "I was just glad to draw the first run."

Dunn was leading going into the final run but fell out of competition for the gold when she lost her balance on her last run, sat back and nearly fell, losing valuable points with a 72.8 score. Thost twisted, flipped and spun down the snow trough to take the gold with a combined two-run total of 74.6 points. Norway's Stine Brun Kjeldaas won the silver with 74.2.

Norway's Daniel Franck won the silver with 82.4 points ahead of Powers' 82.1. Todd Richards, the other American to reach the men's final, slumped to 16th with 69.6. The men's competition was missing the sport's superstar, Norway's Terje Haakonsen, who boycotted the games in protest against the Olympic establishment.

© Copyright 1998 Washington Post Company

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