Snowboarders: Sochi Halfpipe Is a Mess

Officials working on the problem as competition gets under way
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 11, 2014 7:43 AM CST
A snow machine works on the halfpipe in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.   (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

(Newser) – Snowboarders in Sochi have been raising serious concerns about the state of the Olympic halfpipe, the scene of actual competition today: "Everyone is not happy right now," 2006 US gold medalist Hannah Teter told the Washington Post after yesterday's practice. But that hasn't stopped the event from going forward, the New York Times reports. Qualifying rounds have begun, and officials will decide, based on conditions, whether semifinals and finals should take place tonight as planned. Yesterday, officials were working to improve the halfpipe.

Yesterday's practice—postponed from the morning for improvements—didn't inspire confidence among the athletes. "I saw everyone take a hard fall today. That never happens," Teter said. Is it dangerous? "It's just not as fun," says teammate Danny Davis. Athletes said the halfpipe, which Shaun White calls "disappointing," was bumpy, its curvature was off, and the snow was loose; and those who avoided falling yesterday struggled to maintain speed, leading to less aggressive tricks. But the Times notes that halfpipe quality can fluctuate wildly depending on weather conditions and how it's maintained. Still, "this is going to be showcased to billions of people, and we want the best representation of halfpipe snowboarding," Teter says.

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