On the eve of the women’s halfpipe event, the cause of the Freedom Fighters was furthered with the aid of an ally on the inside. Our helping hand came early this morning in the form of two Athlete Guest Passes–enough to get us in proximity to the pipe.

Today was the final day of practice for both men and women riders, and it was our last chance to assess the talent before placing bets for win, place, and show. Ten bucks got you in on the action.

It’s anyone’s game on the men’s side, the talent runs deep and goes big. The women riders will also make a good show tomorrow. Barely legal Kelly Clark is where most people have put their money. Even though she’s coming off a tailbone-crushing 720 McTwist to the deck a couple days ago, Kelly was riding smoothly, “just cruising,” and still turning heads. Kelly got back the results of an X-ray today, confirming that the bone isn’t broken, but as anyone who has ever rocked their coccyx knows, that’s some tender shite.

Behind Kelly, the podium waters muddy a bit and the debate rages on. Dorianne Vidal was second in amplitude today, Nicola Thost rode well, Minna Hesso and Natasza Zurek (Canada’s only girl in pipe) are on. Then there’s Fabienne Reuteler and Stine Brun Kjeldaas, both with moves that could put them in the mix. Shannon Dunn could do some damage, and Norway’s Kjersti Buaas has got the style. This isn’t really saying much, though, is it? There are about six chicks that could win, if Kelly falls or something.

Want me to pick? My bet goes like this: Kelly first, Kjersti second, and Dorianne third. I know, what about Nicola? What about a lot of girls? You can’t have them all. Anything could happen–I might even win a hundred bucks. Or not.

Word is, if it comes down to it and the scores are too tight to determine the medalists, the IOC might employ the infamous “sixth judge,” who scores on cuteness alone. That’s just what we’ve heard. But then, if the sixth judge had any real pull, that Russian girl, Julija, would have won the women’s Nordic event today and Hanna would have won the women’s freestyle skiing event. Oh well. Everyone’s a judge, aren’t they?

Tomorrow we’ll probably spend more time helping the photographers who actually have credentials identify riders or maybe even rewind the film in their cameras they’re not sure how to use (like today). Hopefully we’ll get close enough to see what happens and then we’ll shoot the results to you asap, so tune in. Judging by the vacancies in the media center so far, no one else is really covering anything here at the Olympics, so we’re probably your only hope anyway.

Oh yeah, Gallup’s here now, so cancel your cable, this week’s entertainment is on us.