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Olympic halfpipe problems mounting, Shaun White seeking his third straight gold medal

White Qualifies For Halfpipe Final

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) -- Rider after rider took a crash course Monday night on an Olympic halfpipe that looked only half ready with less than 24 hours until men's competition is set to start.

There were dozens of falls, very few big tricks and a lot of complaining during a practice session that was pushed from morning to night while workers tried to make fixes. The men's event is Tuesday, and American Shaun White will be seeking his third straight gold medal.

"When you see every other person fall, you know something's wrong," said American Hannah Teter, who took gold in 2006 and silver four years ago. "It's a little dangerous. I've seen more people fall today than I saw all season. It's dangerous because it's crappy."

American Danny Davis labeled the halfpipe as "garbage" on Sunday. After returning Monday, he said things were slightly improved but not ideal.

"It's a bummer to show up to an event like the Olympics and not have the quality of the halfpipe match the quality of the riders," Davis said. "Anyone who watched practice tonight can see there were a bunch of people bouncing around in the flat bottom."

White called it "pretty hard to ride," but said it was nothing riders haven't dealt with before at other competitions.

"The flat bottom is just sand and mush," he said. "It's pretty heavy. And once everyone gets in there, it just turns to mush."

Riders said the steeply vertical pitch of the halfpipe has largely been corrected. But the bottom of the pipe is bouncy and slow. Dozens of riders clattered through the bottom, which slows speed and causes wrecks.

Davis said organizers told him they would treat the halfpipe with chemicals that keep the ice frozen at higher temperatures. Highs were in the 40s on Monday.

American coach Mike Jankowski said riders were simply going to have to deal with the conditions presented to them.

"If everything were perfect every time and this were an indoor sport, we'd be figure skating," he said. "Whoever deals with the conditions the best is going to win a medal and whoever gives up isn't going to win a medal."

American Kelly Clark, who won gold in 2002 and bronze in 2010, said conditions were less than ideal but she's been preparing for that.

"Any less-than-perfect pipe we dealt with the last four years, I said, `If this is what we're dealing with in Sochi, I want to be ready,'" she said. "I look at it as an opportunity."

Four years ago in Vancouver, riders complained about the pipe in the lead-up but said conditions improved for the actual contest.

They're hoping for the same thing here.

"The first contest is tomorrow and nobody's ready," Teter said. "They haven't been able to practice their tricks. They're trying to stay alive every run. It's harsh."

Join the discussion

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littiechief February 11 2014 at 12:42 PM

IMO champions should be able to adapt to less than perfect conditions anyway. Where's the challenge if everything is perfect for you every time? Those who can adapt will win, those who cannot will lose. If they wanted conditions to be perfect every time then they should've chosen an indoor sport.

I have as much respect for the daredevil that gives it a go anyway, as I do for the athlete who knows his limits and can admit when something is beyond his abilities and/or not worth the risk. Both take a lot of courage to do.

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1 reply
msgoe littiechief February 11 2014 at 1:57 PM

and they will adapt, however an olympian in any sport has earned and deserves the absolute best conditions period.
what will happen is many more injuries ... and you will not see their best performance ever, what you will see is their best performance under crappy conditions .. two very different things

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dave1marine February 11 2014 at 9:35 AM

The Russians claim to have spent a total of $50 BILLION (1.5 TRILLION RUBLES) on the games. $6.7 BILLION on construction of the facilities, (which would include the halfpipe). Athletes train for YEARS, and come to Russia from around the planet to risk broken legs, concussions, cracked skulls, etc., on a shoddy device. A device that is commonly built in cities across America and other countries that is SAFE for the users.
As if the threats from terrorists weren't enough, it appears the athletes also have to worry about the equipment. Hell, they had 7 YEARS to get these games together. No excuses, Russia.

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3 replies
Drew February 11 2014 at 9:49 AM

A lot of y'all simply don't understand....the poor conditions will make it so that they won't be able to perform their best tricks...it doesn't mean they are "whiney babies"....it just means they would like the opportunity to go all out and push the envelope...

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njenel February 11 2014 at 9:08 AM

like i said, there are people who build these slopes, and half pipes for a living , they're some of the best designers in the business, you never hear of them. they are mentioned in the magazines only remotely. and the skiers and riders go out of their way to go to those ski slopes. WHO DESIGNED THE COARSE??????

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2 replies
jbh1261 njenel February 11 2014 at 9:14 AM


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bambi4318.barbara njenel February 11 2014 at 9:30 AM

The course is coarse.

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1 reply
Janet bambi4318.barbara February 11 2014 at 10:00 AM


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yghope February 11 2014 at 12:18 PM

Snow & Ice are a mix that is unpredictable for sure! They are all in the same "mush" so whoever wins will be the best to deal with the problems of the pipe! I hope Shawn White wins again ... The man is amazing as an athlete! He is just fabulous to watch! Go for it Shawn and yes, "Bring home the Gold"!

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Lisa February 11 2014 at 9:05 AM

These are professional athletes. They do not want to risk injury or death due to a dangerous course. I would complain too. Russia wanted to host the Olympics, they have an obligation to create safe events for all who visit.

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lngfoto February 11 2014 at 11:51 AM

They try to make it perfect, but sometime they cannot. Who ever can work it out will win.

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Sandy February 11 2014 at 8:55 AM

Iloved and watched all shirley temple movies. She was good person, and had a great life ,she with the angels now, my heart goes out for her family

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arenadood February 11 2014 at 11:45 AM

Good conditions or bad. All the competitors have the same surface to compete on. The best to adapt to it will come out on top.

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Richard February 11 2014 at 2:29 PM

Everybody already knew, so what do you mean, came out?

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