First Look 2010 Olympic Halfpipe Session

Photos Nick Hamilton

First Look 2010 Olympic Halfpipe Session

Cypress Olympic Halfpipe

Cypress Olympic Halfpipe

On the surface, everything looked great—the energy leading up to the first drop in at 4:30 p.m. today felt like a grand opening—but not so much a celebration. At the bottom of the pipe more was said with expressions looking back up the pipe than with words. The final verdict seemed to be that the potential is there for this pipe, but it needs work. The salt that everyone seemed to be banking on did successfully harden the first layer, but underneath a foundation of sugary snow spilled out from the gouges put in the walls by the rider's boards.

Shaun White at the first Olympic Halfpipe practice session. Photo Nick Hamilton

Shaun White at the first Olympic Halfpipe practice session. Photo Nick Hamilton

Granted it had been almost a week since anyone had been in the pipe, but the level of riding was collectively low. It was obvious that tonight was all about just feeling the pipe out. The biggest airs were in the 12-foot range—for reference Shaun did a 23-foot air at the X Games. Torah stood out among the women with more amplitude, but the women’s field was mainly straight airs. Shaun and Scotty Lago looked the best of the night—Shaun put down his frontside double cork and Lago his backside 9. But no one did anything remotely close to a contest run.

Scotty Lago throwing a frontside 9 during practice

Scotty Lago throwing a frontside 9 during practice

It would be a shame if the world didn't get a chance to see what we all saw go down at the Grand Prix series and X Games this winter—it needs to get colder, the pipe needs more sculpting, and unfortunately, it's unclear whether the pipe crew will even be able to take the cutter through the pipe due to that sugary foundation. There are still two more practices before competition starts on Wednesday for the 40 men and on Thursday for the 30 women competing in pipe. It looks like we’ll have to hope for the best and prepare  for—not so much the worst—but possibly a less than Olympic quality venue.