Tonight back at Cypress Mountain, the Olympic Games continued, with the much-anticipated men’s halfpipe competition taking center stage. And with all four US riders – Scotty Lago, Greg Bretz, Louie Vito, and Shaun White – making their way into the medal round alongside twelve other competitors, America had a lot to look forward to tonight.
But it’s Shaun White, again, who really stole the show. Placing first in the prelims, Shaun was the last to take his run – but first on the podium. His opening run, which surprisingly didn’t include his highly-anticipated McTwist 1260, scored him a whopping 46.8, catapulting him into first place. This score was enough to keep him in first throughout the duration of the finals round. In fact, he could have still taken home the gold even without taking his second run. But that wouldn’t be in true Shaun White fashion, would it? He chose to play it on the edge during his second run, throwing out that McTwist everyone was hoping for, beating only one score from the night – his own; just icing on the cake for Shun White. His second run earned him a 48.4, more than enough to earn him the gold.
Shaun White really upped the anti this winter, pushing other competitors to take their riding to the next level. Not only does Shaun push the barrier in technicality, he is going so much bigger than any rider – five to six feet higher, in most cases. It is riders like Shaun who continue to progress and evolve the sport of snowboarding, taking it to the level its at today and beyond. Personally, I thought Shaun’s first run tonight was much better and more fun to watch than his second – he held his amplitude and style throughout, and on his second run he nearly lost it at the end – but his second score only goes to show that these judges in Vancouver are completely placing technical tricks above all else.
This morning we talked a little bit about the double cork and why they’re really this season’s “must have” trick, and that mantra proved to be true as the day unfolded. The first US competitor to take the stand was 22-year-old Scotty Lago, a rider known for his unique, solid style and massive air. And his first run couldn’t have been more legit. Scotty began with a huge 1080 into a switch double cork, finishing up with a huge 900. The amplitude Scotty is able to achieve while still remaining technical is what sets him apart, and tonight it is what helped him bring home bronze with a score of 42.8.
Greg Bretz, the youngest member of the US Olympic team at only 19, slid out after attempting a double cork during his first run, however, in hopes to redeem himself during his second, he slid out again after attempting the same tick, costing him his shot at placing on the podium tonight. Bummer, because otherwise, Bretz had a lot going for him. He does have four years to perfect his run in preparation for the next Winter Olympics, though, in 2014!
Louie Vito, the 21-year-old from Ohio also known for his appearance on Dancing with the Stars this past season, was the first rider to ever land a double cork in competition, so these types of tricks come pretty naturally to him. He also typically begins his run with his double cork combo right out of the gate, which is a bit tougher and the judges definitely look favorably on this. Vito, though, in my opinion, is not the most consistent rider, and I thought his first run, which featured back-to-back corks, as expected, and finishing with a 1080 was just a little mundane. His run was definitely smooth and technical, don’t get me wrong, just not “groundbreaking” in terms of style. Especially compared to riders like Shaun who have both style and technicality going for him. His second run was much better, and he even finished out with a 12. One thing Louie really does have going for him is his small size. Standing at only 5’5″, it’s a little easier for him to get his spins around, so that’s one thing you can always count on Louie for.
Though Louie came out and performed an amazing run, it wasn’t quite enough to earn him a podium finish, as he barely missed the cut off. But with White taking home the gold and Lago with the bronze, two’s not a bad number, right? The silver went to Finnish rider Peetu Piiroinen, who took a score of 45 with his second run and really gave Shaun a run for his money.
One of my personal favorite tricks performed throughout the night was Kokubo’s McTwist tweak – a trick he completed seamlessly in both runs. So solid. He got so much amplitude and was fully extended, and his riding style is very different and fun to watch. If the rest of his run on both accounts had been a little cleaner he for sure would have taken home a medal.
Well, that’s that. Two medals in pipe for the US; now let’s see at least two more during the women’s halfpipe comp. tomorrow!