(February 20, 2010) The Olympics have proven to be a unique experience in a lot of intangible ways, but one very real way for us here at TransWorld was that, unlike the Grand Prixs, at the Olympics we've been kept at arms length from the riders. Instead of prime spectating positions, we got corralled and caged-in off to the side among a distracted herd of journalists. Instead of high fives at the bottom of the pipe and casual banter, we were forced to sit in folding chairs and wait for our turn to ask questions into a microphone at scheduled press conferences. ("This question is for Mr. Lago. How stoked are you right now?") Sure, we have ways around it—we might have been the only ones trying to pull Jedi mind tricks and over/unders to get into the coveted coaches viewing section (a full two corrals closer to the action!) and let's not even talk about the sideways moves Nick had to make to get in front of the podium. But sometimes, we found that like the riders who have to jump through hoops earning FIS points at some god forsaken World Cup or enduring late night visits by the Olympic dopers, we just needed to "sack up" and deal … and throw our high fives and hell yeahs across a linen-covered press conference table. I was looking for a good example of a bad article about snowboarding's debut in Nagano to check in on how far we’ve come in these last four Olympics, when I came across this gem from February 1998 in The Washington Post talking about one of those dreary press conferences … and I swear, I found this after writing all of the above … seriously, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
"One snowboarding reporter from a publication he identified as “Transworld” prefaced his question to the snowboarders with, “My sincere congratulations to all of you. … You guys rule, dude.”
PS, the whole 'Scotty Lago going home early story' isn't even worth mentioning, however I will say that those mudslingers at TMZ are a collective steaming pile of crap. I can't help but wonder how it is that fellow New Hampshire skier Bode Miller could spend an entire two weeks at the 2006 winter Olympics partying and failing miserably in competition without the threat of being sent home or dishonoring the Olympic spirit, while Lago performs to his fullest and then gets sent home for blowing off some steam. The moral of the story definitely isn't to behave like an Olympian, it's to not get caught doing otherwise. If you saw half the things that are going on at 3:00 am on the streets of Vancouver, you would understand the pettiness of this whole thing. Scotty is our hero, and we hope Seabrook, New Hampshire is giving him a hero’s homecoming.
Cause tonight's gonna be a good night … Tiki Tok on the clock cause the party don't stop noo … Just dance …
I know, I know, snowboarding in the Olympics is over (except for PGS later this week …) time to move onto the next topic. But, wait, we were so busy up at Cypress that we lost sight of the big picture. Like alot of the riders, we are stoked to check out some of the other “winter sports”—the hot tickets are for hockey, NBC commentator Todd Richards must not have gotten the memo—he spent the day caught up in the drama of live curling.
If the Olympics are truly a world event, then the music being blasted out of every club and country party tent in an indication of what the hottest party hits are. It’s a close race between these songs as to which is the unofficial party anthem for the 2010 Winter Games. All three of them are still playing in my head right now from last night. Make it stop …
Two Cool Things
Is snowboarding getting hyped on the frontpage of your local paper? Upload the pics to the twsnow.com for everyone to see.
Shaun White Killed It Tonight
(Monday, February 15, 11:32 pm) First, it’s raining so hard right now. Second, before it unexpectedly started raining at about 9:00 pm tonight, the pipe had improved a lot and Shaun White was killing it. He pulled his winning run sticking both his frontside and Cab double corks up high and his double McTwist 12 on the last hit. Of course he wasn’t getting as much air as usual, but it was pretty amazing that he was able to put his run together. The other riders were getting hung up on the mogul field in the flatbottom. It was hard to tell what Shaun was doing differently to not be effected as badly. The pipe was definitely shaping up and expectations were that it could actually come together for a good finals. We’ll see how it fares after this latest rain shower. Hopefully it doesn’t dislodge itself and take off down the mountain like some sort of freak Mardi Gras float.
We finally Got Up To Cypress Mountain!
(Monday February 15 1:53 am) There were no fewer than six checkpoints to go through on the drive up to Cypress. We lucked out and hitched a ride with the BBC crew, which consists of 1998 halfpipe silver medalist Stine Brun Kjeldaas and Ed Leigh (twitter.com/whoppercock). Thanks Mates. We’ll be downgrading to the media bussing system tomorrow, so if you never hear from us again, I guess this is goodbye.
Our full Olympic pipe update is here.
News from today outside of the inaugural pipe session
Today, Olympic organizers cancelled 4,000 standing room tickets to the boardercross for a very long laundry list of reasons, but as far as we could tell tonight, the biggest problem was an almost mile long line of people waiting for busses back down the mountain after the freestyle event. Read more about it here: http://www.vancouversun.com/sports/Vanoc+cancels+some+tickets+snowboard+events/2565215/story.html
All the riders seemed happy with the boardercross course during today’s practice. The snow is a little slushy, otherwise the course is pretty wide open and adequate. Qualifiers kick off tomorrow (Monday Feb. 15) at 10:30 am, and finals are scheduled to begin at exactly 2:53 p.m. sharp.
Kazuhiro Kokubo’s Dress Code Violation
The most amazing story that we somehow missed earlier this week is Kazu Kokubo—The Ski Association of Japan wanted to send him home from the Games for having his tie loose and his shirt untucked at the airport in Japan. Read the full story here. Apparently, Kazu didn't get the memo about there being no I in team … or individuality in life apparently. Sadly, they yanked him, his team manager, and two of the coaches from opening ceremony all over a dress code. If you don’t know Kazu, he’s a snowboarder's snowboarder. Check out his clip from Standard Films (http://www.hulu.com/watch/47099/the-standard-snowboard-show-kazu) and cheer him on Wednesday night.
Tomorrow is a big snowboardercross day and another pipe practice day. The weather looks like rain. But first things first, Nick Hamilton needs to buy some crampons to shoot from the side of the pipe—it’s the rules.
Whacked Out, Pot-Smoking, Extreme-Sports Athletes
(Saturday Feb 14, 2010) If you ever get nostalgic for the old days of snowboarding, when it was thought of as a passing fad for neer-do-wells, I suggest you come to the Olympic Games. The stereotypes and preconceptions are alive and well … among the media anyway.
There was a press conference recently where a reporter felt compelled to ask Lago whether snowboarding is a legitimate sport. This is here at our fourth Olympic Winter Games. Seriously, what rocks did these people crawl out from under? Then there's a story here about the Olympic "fringe" sport of snowboarding from Minnesota of all places. Minnesota—you know us! This is the best quote: "White’s image goes against what many snowboard nonfollowers tend to think about those who compete in the sport, said Bob Dorfman, of San Francisco advertising agency Baker Street Partners. “He seems to be wholesome and doesn’t seem to be a whacked out, pot-smoking, extreme-sports athlete … " Really? That's what the "snowboard nonfollowers" think of us? If they're not talking about snowboarding in general, they are talking about Shaun White specifically. His hair—it's a red mane, it flows, it's shocking. The topic of his nicknames—the animal, The Flying Tomato (so 2006), and Red Zeppelin. Potential trick names for the Double McTwist 12 with Whitesnake, Tomahawk, and double eagle frequently referenced. We figure this is a smoke and mirrors tactic so everyone can continue to report on snowboarding at the Olympics without having a clue as to what is going on—real quote from a New York reporter—"My usual beat is football, but I'm covering snowboarding." Did he really just say that? The rain yesterday was fairly oppressive, most of the riders laid low. The pipe team moved out of the Olympic Village and into a US Snowboard pipe team house closer to Cypress—Shaun has his own place with one of his sponsors, and Hannah is staying with her family. We did a little nightlife research last night hitting up a time capsule party hosted by legendary snowboard photographer Trevor Graves and Nike at The Boardroom, where we ran into the Canadian snowboard scene. The party was just outside of downtown and there was no sign of any Olympic chaos. A short taxi ride later back into downtown, we ran into the entire world, and confirmed that yes, the bars do stay open until 3:00 a.m. in Vancouver, and people are partying their faces off in the streets … even if it is pouring rain.We're headed up to pipe and boardercross practice today, it’s sunny! Real talk tonight about the conditions at Cypress. Follow us on twitter.com/twsnow
Friday, February 12, 2010. We're here at the 2010 Winter Olympics! And it's raining! It's all about the weather here—rain jackets and umbrellas are more common than winter jackets and scarves on the streets of Vancouver. As you probably know by now, all of the snowboard events are in Vancouver at Cypress Mountain, not in Whistler. But really, it's raining at Whistler, too—the downhill skiing race was postponed today. The first snowboarding event isn't until Monday kicking off with Boardercross, which unfortunately also had practice and training canceled today due to the rain. We'll get our first look at the pipe tomorrow during the first of three pipe practice days. Click here for the full snowboarding schedule. One thing that went on despite the rain was the opening ceremony last night, of course it had the advantage of being indoors. TWS Photo Editor Nick Hamilton and I finagled tickets at the last moment, and found ourselves sitting alongside the "tabled media"—a collection of Time Magazine and AP writers who typed feverishly at their computers throughout the ceremony, looking up occasionally, not standing for the anthems, or wearing the audience participation Snuggies. Okay, we didn't wear them either … but we did take in the whole awesome spectacle and loved every second of it. Good times—thanks Canada!
The highlight of the whole ceremony last night was definitely snowboarding. Okay, maybe we're biased, but the entire ceremony—in front of 65,000 spectators and 3.5 billion people worldwide—was kicked off by freeriding! The riders in the opening film were Shin Campos and Johnny Lyall filmed by Warren Miller Productions, and it was a completely awesome reel with cliff drops, powder butters, and bottomless pow turns in the Whistler backcountry. Yes world, there is more to snowboarding than what you see in the Olympics. Endeavor pro Johnny Lyall stuck the frontside air through the hoops into the stadium and welcomed the world—way to not choke Johnny. And yes, we do like the symbolism of a snowboarder having to jump through hoops to get into the Olympics. (P.S. Hope you enjoyed it Christine Brennan.) In all there were thirteen snowboards involved in the opening ceremony. The remaining were the riders suspended by cords doing backflips and frustratingly not grabbing their boards. Shaun and Louie seemed to be entertained by that segment as much as we were. Speaking of those guys, didn't Louie, Scotty and Greg look all-American in their Polo outfits? Scotty twittered that he was "sweating balls" in his sweater. In other opening ceremony snowboarder news, among the 82 teams marching out for their countries, six were headed by snowboarders—Torah Bright was the flagbearer for Australia, Queralt Castellet for Spain, Juliane Bray for New Zealand, Lluis Marin for Andorra, Isabel Clark for Brazil, and Alexandra Jekova for Bulgaria, Congrats.
It's gray and drizzling today and it's expected to stay this way, possibly clearing up by Wednesday and Thursday in time for the pipe competitions. It's not looking so good for the boardercross events on Monday and Tuesday—slushfest 2010 wax race.
According to their twittering today, Louie Vito and Scotty Lago are playing Xbox in the rider village, Lago is bummed they’re moving to a house closer to Cypress because he’ll “miss all the hot Russians,” Greg Bretz and Elena Hight are on a traditional paddle tour with Vancouver natives after meeting Governor Schwarzenegger this morning, the entire US team met Vice President Biden yesterday, and they’re all going up and down Grouse mountain at some point to appear on the Today show.