The Cypress Mountain Olympic snowboard halfpipe maybe very much less than perfect tomorrow for the start of the halfpipe competition due to rain and unseasonal warm temperatures.
Last week the IOC shortened official practice for the halfpipe event as warm temperatures created brittle sugar-like snow in the freshly made 22-foot high pipe. When practice did kick off riders were tentative in the pipe warm-ups when the pipe flat-bottom became soft and sugary as the thin layering of salt on the pipe walls started to crumbled under the riders weight as they carved up the transitions.
The less-than-optimal pipe condition meant riders were unable to launch as high as normal and heights of the biggest airs were reported at a small 10-15 foot height range, very much below the modern day pipe amplitudes that were exemplified at last months X-games in Aspen Colorado, where Shaun White was boosting 23-feet above the halfpipe lip.
Nevertheless, while other riders were tentatively trying to work out how to ride this crumbling pipe, Shaun White didn’t hold back and was throwing his 3 double-corks that he has made famous this year. Australia’s Torah Bright was also a standout in practice boosting the highest of the girls, quelling all doubts about her sustained head injury after a bad crash in practice during the X-games.
Last night’s heavy rain and fog means that there is a risk the halfpipe cannot be groomed, as the weight of the groomers will churn and bog in the water laden snow. Luckily this storm front that has been drowning Cypress in rain is forecast to clear today and temperatures may drop to below freezing tonight and tommorrow as a clear cold pattern extends over the region.
So now all we can do is hope that when the worlds’ eyes are focusing on snowboarding this Wednesday night for the men’s finals, the pipe will be up to international standard and the event won’t turn into something like a spring day in the Perisher pipe, including 3 foot airs and a bunch of 540’s. It’s a roll of the dice and the IOC has gambled snowboarding’s credibility.
Words: Russell Holt :: Photos: Jake McBride
Olympic Halfpipe Schedule Vancouver time. (East Coast Australia time)
Men – February 17.
Qualifying: 1:05pm (8:05am + 1 day)
Finals: 5:15pm (12:15pm + 1 day)
Women – February 18.
Qualifying: 12:30pm (7:30am + 1 day)
Finals: 4:00pm (11:00pm + 1 day)
Shaun White boost a very mellow practice backside air last night at Cypress Mountain, where the halfpipe is dangerously sugary and unstable.