Last night’s Olympic Male Halfpipe was, to put things in one simple word, epic. Every single competitor fought tooth and nail and this caused some surprising early exits. French wonder kid Arthur Longo, Swiss Markus Keller and Norwegian Roger Kleivdal all took early showers as riders took tumbles whilst pushing hard in a pipe that was only just seen to be fit for an Olympic final earlier that day. Shaun White, Ryo Aono and Louie Vito respectively took the top three spots in the first heat with Peetu Piiroinen, Kazuhiro Kokubo and Iouri Podlatchikov doing likewise in the second, all earning themselves a trip straight to the finals. The remaining qualifiers took a spot in the semis including GBs own Ben Kilner who threw down an impressively composed and technical run with a huge opening straight air and big, clean 10 earning himself a solid 32.1.
The semis were an impressive battle that saw the beginning of the duel of the double corks proper. Ben’s runs didn’t quite cut the mustard and a couple of unfortunate hits meant that he came out in 18th overall which is still pretty damn good! Well done Ben you did us all proud as we knew you would. Markus Malin, Greg Bretz, Scotty Lago, Matthieu Crepel, Markku Koski and Justin Lamoureux all headed through to make up the final 12 and the games really began.
From the off the final was a closely fought contest with Kazuhiro, I-Pod, Scotty Lago and Peetu all uping their game in order to try and beat Shaun White but as soon as Shaun’s first run cam in with a score 46.8 the game was all but up. With a run that he had been practicing back in Park City Shaun came straight in with a huge backside air followed by back to back double cork 10s, his signature frontside 5 stalefish and a back 9 to round it off it is unsurprising that he took the first medal position straight off American team mate Scotty Lago. The second set of runs was a battle to even come close to the ridiculous first run score of Mr. White. Kazu’s stylish run had everyone cheering until his face plant after his attempt at a double cork on the last hit, his first of the competition. I-Pod went at the pipe like a man possessed until he stack after only a couple of hits and Peetu threw down (a huge front 7 and cab double 10 for his first 2 hits) but it just wasn’t quite enough to push Shaun back. Once again Shaun was left with a lap of honour ahead of him but thankfully the show man in him didn’t dissappointed and he repeated his run with pinpoint precision and threw in his patented ‘Tomahawk’ double McTwist 12 in place of the final back 9. With a final score of 48.4 there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that once again, love him or hate him, Shaun White had been the best rider on the day/night/silly hours of the morning (depending on where you were watching).