All Photos: Chris Wellhausen
The Sochi halfpipe has some kinks to work out before tomorrow
France's Arthur Longo rode across the flat-bottom during tonight's pipe practice, caught his edge and slammed face first into the opposing wall. He was one of many riders who are struggling with the condition of the pipe a day before qualifiers start.
"It's super sketchy," Arthur said after his fall. "The snow is super soft, we're just digging into the snow. I just side-slipped the last run and there's holes like 20 centimeters wide." While Arthur spoke another rider went down hard, knocking her helmet off her head. He watched as it bounced down the flat-bottom.
This not how things usually go during a pipe practice.
Shaun White was also frustrated as he tried for tricks like his Cab 1440 double cork but wasn't able to get any around. "It's a little disappointing," Shaun said about pipe. "It's hard to get in there and have all the tricks and not be able to get to the wall. I'm hoping they can do whatever they can to make it a better pipe."
Too much snow in the flat bottom was just one of the problems with the pipe today. Temperatures crept into the mid-50s making for slushy conditions and forcing organizers to postpone the morning practice until 7:30 at night. Although head pipe builder John Meliville and his crew fixed the issue with the over-vert walls that riders were complaining after practice on Sunday, there's still a bit of a kink at the bottom of the walls making for some bumpy runs.
With the pipe stationed across from the mogul event Danny Davis joked that were two mogul contests going on today. He's been one of the most outspoken riders on the condition of the pipe saying earlier, "What a lame showcase of snowboarding, and what lame way to treat the athletes."
But Danny's outlook seemed a little more positive this evening. "It's a tiny bit better than yesterday," he said. "Word on the street is that they're going to pump that bad boy full of chemicals and make it smooth and firm for tomorrow. Part of the problem is the snow is so soft and moist. Once they can pump it full of stuff to make it firm I think it will be a lot better. Tomorrow it's probably going to be fun. The last few days it's kinda been a battle."
It will be a long night for the builders as they try to get the pipe in shape. But the situation is similar to the Vancouver Olympics where the pipe was in poor condition the night before the qualifiers and builders delivered a greatly improved setup. Head builder John Melville was part of the team who pulled the Vancouver pipe together so here's hoping he can do it again.
Men's halfpipe qualifiers start on Tuesday at 2 p.m. Moscow time, 2 a.m. Pacific.