Sochi 2014 Men's Halfpipe Finals Report - Iouri 'iPod' Podladtchikov wins gold, Shaun White misses the podium

iPOD, AYUMU AND TAKU TAKE THE MEDALS

iPod, victorious
iPod, victorious

Shaun White, despite frantic claims, didn’t even make the podium at the Olympic halfpipe finals in Sochi. In fact no snowboarder from team USA earned a medal as Russia (well, technically Switzerland) and Japan cleaned up. Who’d have thought…

El Blanco stalls on his first run
El Blanco stalls on his first run

Iouri Podladtchikov - the iPod – was fully in sync with the controversially sketchy halfpipe, landing a double McTwist 1260 and YOLO flip in the same run, the very combo that El Blanco was hotly tipped to put down. For the first time in eight years the halfpipe gold has a new neck to hang on.

iPod also went the biggest aside from the Tomahawking Tangerine, but Mr White was unable to put down a first run and – incredibly, given his famous love of competition – crumbled under the pressure of the second. After his withdrawal from the slopestyle he proved once and for all that pulling out is never a safe option…

Iouri Podladtchikov stakes his claim for the gold
Iouri Podladtchikov stakes his claim for the gold

Ayumu Hirano clinched the silver on his last run, just taking it from his team mate Taku Hiraoka by 1.25 points. In the end there were only 2.5 points separating the top three – the first ever podium without an American on it. Ayumu didn’t unleash the triple cork the world was watching out for; if he had he would certainly have walked away with the gold.

Ayumu getting some height for silver
Ayumu getting some height for silver

After an admittedly damp squib of a semi final, the final was tense from start to finish. Rarely for these Olympics, most of the competitors managed to put down strong runs as the pipe firmed up and the level went up several notches. Christian Haller, David Habluetzel, Yiwei Zhang and Wancheng Shi all looked like potential medal threats at points.

The Chinese tindy made several appearances, but thankfully not on to the podium
The Chinese tindy made several appearances, but thankfully not on to the podium

The unanswered question of the night has to be: what was Danny Davis going to do on that last hit, and could it have changed the table? In both runs he fell on the way up to the final wall after his super styled McTwist chicken wings, while back threes and switch methods drew the biggest cheers of the night in our Olympic HQ. Whatever he was planning, he still won the style category in our eyes.

Danny Davis' chicken wing McTwists were a sight to behold
Danny Davis’ chicken wing McTwists were a sight to behold

Greg Bretz didn’t manage to put down a full run, coming in last and killing the ‘Murica vibes on twitter. Next time Bretz eh?

Our editor-in-chief, Ed Blomfield had this to say:

So Shaun White has been de-throned on the biggest stage. Where does he go from here? No doubt the riders – not least on the American team, who know a thing or two about building halfpipes – will have much, much more to say about the conditions in Sochi. As for El Blanco, the ginger ninja, the Flying Tomato… does he pick himself up and put himself through another punishing training cycle? Does he switch to skateboarding full time? Or will he call time on his riding career – which has started to look like a job, even a grind at times – and focus on his many business interests? Time will tell, but the events we just witnessed under those floodlights tonight will echo through snowboarding for months and years to come I’m sure.

He makes a good point about the conditions; the main story leading up to tonight was all to do with how badly thought-out the pipe shaping and placement was. As Ben Kilner put it, the riders had only practiced on pipes above 2000m all winter; this one was at under 1250m altitude.

One more thing: we said it many times over the course of today, but Kent Callister should have got a special ‘best method’ for his efforts in the pipe today, just look at the beauty…

Look. At. That. Kent Callister.
Look. At. That. Kent Callister.

But that was it for the men’s halfpipe. As we type and blog long into the night, spurred on by our editor’s screams at Ayumu‘s silver (never bet your life savings on a fifteen year old), all we can think is, ‘Oh God, it’s the women’s tomorrow.’ So don’t forget to join us then as we live blog the last freestyle snowboard event the general public will be talking about for another four years.

Men’s halfpipe final results

1

Iouri Podladtchikov

94.75

2

Ayumu Hirano

93.50

3

Taku Hiraoka

92.25

4

Shaun White

90.25

5

David Habluetzel

88.50

6

Yiwei Zhang

87.25

7

Wancheng Shi

81.00

8

Tim-Kevin Ravnjak

72.25

9

Kent Callister

68.50

10

Danny Davis

53.00

11

Christian Haller

51.50

12

Greg Bretz

26.50

 

X

Also in Events

Meet iPod - the 2014 Olympic Halfpipe Gold Medallist

Read More