With the perfect shape and predicted good weather, the potential is there for a pipe contest like no other seen before. And with 20,000 people cheering on the men, things are going to go ballistic. Hell, the women went huge. I’m scared to thing how big the men will go.
Here’s a look at who’ll be competing today in the men’s pipe competition:
Of the 35 riders competing, only ten were at the Nagano Olympics. However, the top three medalists from 1998 are all back with a vengence. The Gold Medalist Gian Simmen has gone from relative obscurity four years ago to a seasoned and respected competitor. Not much needs to be said about Silver Medalist Daniel Franck or Bronze Medalist Ross Powers. Watch both carefully.
Being in the U.S., there are heavy expectations on the home team of Danny “Crazy” Kass, Tommy “the Machine”, and J.J. “Huge McTwist” Thomas and their home-field advantage. With the maximum of four riders in the main event, the U.S. certainly has as good a shot at a top-three placing as any other country. Interestingly enough, the Scaner countries of Finland, Sweden, and Norway all have four riders as well, in addition to Canada. Switzerland, Germany, and Japan all have three, while Spain, Poland, and Italy have one rider each.
The youngest competitor is Japan’s Takaharu Nakai, who’s 18. The oldest is Swiss rider Marcel Hitz, at age 28. The question is, will he live up to his name?
Other notables to watch are Canada’s Mike Michalchuk, who has supposedly been throwing double back flips and double Michalchuk’s in the same run. Insane.
Norway’s Kim Christiansen looked great in practice, as did Sweden’s Stefan Karlsson. Then it might someone a little less known like Finland’s Tuomo Ojala or France’s Mathieu Justafre, if someone would just set him free.
Tune in to transworldsnowboarding.com to get the whole story about who won the men’s Olympic halfpipe competition on Monday afternoon.