The normally chill athletes competing in the snowboard halfpipe competition are not stoked about the conditions of their mountain arena, and have called for officials to delay the event. That's definitely not going to happen, even after more than half the competitors fell today during qualifiers.
The men's snowboarding halfpipe final is taking place right now and the pipe is a dangerous mess, according to some of the sport's best and most respected riders. Athletes complained about the pipe's conditions since the first practice rides this weekend, and, if the qualifying runs ahead of tonight's final are any indication, the pipe won't magically come together at the last minute like in Vancouver, when a deep freeze made the pipe perfect at just the right time. Any efforts to repair the pipe have been thwarted by Sochi's warm temperatures, and restrictions set by the International Olympic Committee, which has only emphasized the wide gaps between the riders and the stuffy IOC officials who covet their appeal to younger viewers.
American slopestyle gold medalists Sage Kotsenburg and Jamie Anderson showed the world snowboarders are the chillest athletes you'll find at the Winter Olympics. No one is more laid back. No collection of athletes can go with the flow like the snowboarders, and yet, the best among them hate the Sochi halfpipe. "It's the Olympics. It should be flawless," American veteran Danny Davis told Yahoo Sports, adding the pipe is "garbage." “It’s hard to get in there and have all the tricks and have everything that you need and not be able to get to the wall,” two-time reigning champ Shaun White, universally recognized as the best rider in the world, told the Washington Post. On Sunday, the biggest problem was the pipe walls, from which the riders launch high into the air. The problem was fixed, mostly, but at the sacrifice of the pipe base, where sugary snow prevents a smooth approach to the next wall.
Some think conditions are so poor the event should have been postponed. "They should push [the event] back," former American gold medalist Hannah Teter said. Others hope a higher power will step in and help the riders stay safe. "It's the Olympics," American women's team rider Arielle Gold told Yahoo Sports. "Miracles can happen." But through the qualifying runs — which organizers almost scraped because of pipe conditions — over half of riders fell during their runs. The only American rider to miss the final, 20-year-old Taylor Gold, fell during his semi-final run and failed to qualify. His two runs in qualifying were nearly flawless.