One of the reasons people enjoy sports of any kind is for the dramatic turn of events that can occur at anytime. Sometimes we get so set on certain athletes taking the prize that we forget to look around at who else might step up to the plate. Well, the Olympic Halfpipe snowboarders provided a reminder that anything can happen when the atmosphere is right and the athletes are ready to push it.
Shaun White. That is the name many people first associate with Halfpipe Snowboarding, especially at the Olympic level. Over the years we have watched White progress into one of the best snowboarders, skateboarders, and overall athletes to ever compete. We had almost assumed that he would take home his third Olympic Gold Medal. This competition meant a lot to White, which was re-iterated when he pulled out of the X Games a few weeks ago in Aspen, and then Slopestyle in Sochi, in order to focus his energy on defending his Olympic title. Watching White drop into the pipe, it was exciting to see how high he would go and what tricks he would put down. Then it happened, he fell. The almost flawless Shaun White took a substantial smack on the most talked about trick this year, the “Yolo” Flip. Knowing that run would be a toss out, White still put in a couple of tricks, which resulted in another fall, as he crushed the lip of the pipe on his way down from a trick.
Meanwhile, Iouri Podladtchikov or (I-Pod), who was also favored to medal in the Games, was stomping tricks and wowing the crowd. Landing the “Yolo” Flip, which he created, gave him the advantage he needed to take home the Gold. The Olympics are a place for the best to push their limits, and this type of excitement is the result. The shock was doubled with White loosing Gold, and failing to make a podium appearance in the Sochi Winter Olympics.
Going into the Women’s Snowboard Halfpipe competition the favorites were Torah Bright from Australia, and American Kelly Clark. Bright was looking to repeat her Gold medal performance from the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Clark, the most decorated woman in snowboarding, also had Gold on her mind. But out of nowhere came American Kaitlyn Farrington. After her final run she sat in 1st , but had to watch as two of the best competitors had yet to go. As the scores were posted, Farrington was floored, just happy to be on the US Olympic team, she was shocked she was going home with the Gold Medal. I actually had a chance to meet Kaitlyn during the X Games recently, and interview her right before the Olympics. After talking to her for just a few minutes, it was easy to enjoy her laid-back personality and realize that she is still competing with the mindset that most of us start skiing or snowboarding with; it’s all about the fun.