Wow, well if there is anything that the past two days at the Winter Olympics has taught us it’s that anything can happen in the pipe. After last night’s downfall of Shaun White, tonight was no different in the women’s pipe…there was drama, surprises and a surprising amount of slush.
So conditions were tough out there by the looks of it, as the global women’s half pipe elite struggled to land clean runs, keep their speed up and get to do the tricks they’d been practising like crazies to master for these very games. But the medals were up for grabs and with 3 former gold medallists in the line-up, we didn’t know who to place our bets on. Hannah Teter, Kelly Clark or the women’s snowboarders’ snowboarder Torah Bright or…
As Japanese rider, Rana Okada, kicked it off, we couldn’t help but feel that the world’s eyes were waiting for the final 4 to fight it out. But before they could even get in the pipe rookie (though also Euro X Games gold medallist 2010) Kaitlyn Farrington threw the first worthy run of the evening, with a back 7, back 9 and a rodeo 5 to finish it off. Giving her the early lead.
Until Hannah Teter was up. Ready to drop in making a fashion statement in just her base layer or perhaps a statement about the crazy low pipe altitude (bit warm Sochi!). The 2006 champion (who came from nowhere to win it then) claimed the first over 90 score of the night with her run consisting of a big backside air, front 9, back 5 tail, front 7, cab 7, frontside air and back 9. A nice position to be in after run 1. Safe.
With Triple Torah, the firm favourite of the public, smiling and ready at the top of the pipe, we wondered if her criticism of its conditions would affect her performance. But she was straight in with a giant McTwist (the best we have seen, droolworthy even) a backside 7 but goes down on her 5. Gutted for her! But she’s still smiling…and she’s still got a run to go.
Despite having a 1080 in her run (the only girl to have one), Kelly Clark was struggling with the pipe (which is unusual) and slammed hard on the coping. Not a pretty sight or certainly not what she’d planned for. It was going to be another pressurised final run for the halfpipe.
Could our hearts take it!! They had to. Round 2. And Kaitlyn Farrington with no pressure and nada to lose truly stepped up including a switch backside 7, air-fakie and frontside rodeo in a super-stylee, though not massively high, run which saw her score 91.75. Still GAME ON. But no one looked like knocking Kaitlyn Farrington off her podium perch until Torah Bright, the second last athlete to go’s, run. Watched by a zillion bleary-eyed Aussies at 4.30am their time, she didn’t disappoint laying down a run which included a monster McTwist, air-fakie to switch backside 7 and a backside alley-oop rodeo. For reasons which slightly passed our understanding, the judges gave her 91.50, which put her in second. Kelly Clark, in her fourth Winter Olympics, put in a powerful, impressive run but had to settle for bronze scoring 90.75.
We were doing the live blog with the guys from Whitelines and there was much dissing of the “Chinese robot halfpipe style”. It made us dig out this old Lesley McKenna interview on the Chinese approaching to winning halfpipe medals. Makes interesting reading.
So overall while we were stoked on Sunday’s slopestyle result, tonight’s one was a little complex and not just because the pipe was so sketch or because we’re unashamedly #teamtorah. Still you can’t say it wasn’t a dramatic and unexpected final and that can only be good for women’s snowboarding.