Once again the state of the halfpipe came under fire; it was ten degrees celcius at the start of the competition today so any work done overnight to save it was carved out almost immediately. The men yesterday just managed to deal with the problems, but many of the women looked like they lacked the core strength to overcome the bumps, ruts and slush.
Not Kelly Clark though; she took the win and will go straight through to the final, but she faced fierce competition from the Spanish underdog Queralt Castellet. Kelly’s first run score of 92.25 was just topped by a point, but never one to take anything but a victory she threw down a frontside 1080 in her second run and upped her score to 95.00. She’s looking good for the finals.
Queralt will definitey join her there – she came in second with a slick run including bac-to-back 7s and a 900 – then Sophie Rodriguez from France rounded out the top three.
Ursina Haller and Sarka Pancochova both made it through to the semis, along with the two Chinese riders from this heat, Li Shuang and Sun Zihfeng. Thank god Shark Attack came out of her fall from the slopestyle finals unscathed as she was able to put down some of the more entertaining runs of the day so far, this alley-oop handplant scoring highly in the Whitelines war room.
The other best moment for us also came from Sarka, check out this method! Her experience placed her in a better position than most to make full use of this terrible, terrible pipe that reduced most of the rest of the competition to pretty miserable straight airs and low amplitude 540s. Interestingly though no one really seems to be speaking out about it now, instead choosing to knuckle down and get on with it.
So apart from a wacky hair do from one of the Aussies…
…that was that, but bring on heat 2! And if you want to see what the pipe will look like by the end of the day, check out this video of a GoPro getting dropped out of a plane and eaten by a pig.
Torah Bright never looked in any doubt that she was going to let this one slip out of her grasp, locking down her top spot with a first run that looked solid top to bottom. Wide smiles the whole way down, she tweaked out all her spins, including back-to-back alley-oops, the only woman to do so. In classic Torah style we were treated to a bunch of slashes on the way down to the bottom on her second run. Yeah Bright!
Claiming the second automatic finals spot was the other America and 2006 Olympic gold medallist Hannah Teter, so the finals now have the last three champions set to drop in the last four final spots. Tonight is looking set to be a good show.
Third place went to Cai Xuetong, with some true Chinese robot style. Although they look impressive, there’s been nothing that stylish or progressive from camps China yet, not quite grasping the fundamentals as well as the Japanese have done in recent years. Hopefully we’ll see more riders like Kazu and Ayumu in the next games. Still, three riders between the two halfpipe finals so far is a pretty big achievement.
A pleasant surprise for us in our Cornish fortress was American rider Kaitlyn Farrington, putting down arguably one of the more progressive runs with a particularly spectacular alley-oop rodeo. If she can tidy up her grabs in the semis she could do better than fourth place in the finals.
And so the last snowboard qualifier is over, semis next and then an awesome looking final tonight. It’s gonna be a toughy for the judges, how will they rank the big spins of Kelly Clark and Queralt Castellet against the slow and stylish aerials of Torah and Teter. It’s that old conundrum that the Olympics has thrown up again this time round, spin-to-win vs. style.
Awww… huck it.