The first week of the 2010 Winter Olympics saw 2 of the 3 snowboarding events take place. The week was full of many exciting moments and some moments that were far from exciting. Snowboard Cross had to deal with a rough course, fog delays and even rain. The Halfpipe event had to deal with grainy snow and warm temps. Both Snowboard Cross and the Halfpipe event had to deal with the fact that the standing room tickets were all cancelled and refunded due to the lack of snow that was needed to let people stand on the sidelines or the side of the pipe. This didn’t stop the events from having a huge crowd to cheer on the athletes though.
Men’s Snowboard Cross got started on time with a field of 35 riders. Quickly that field was down to 32 qualified riders that moved onto the 1/8 Finals. All of the USA team qualified with Graham Watanabe posting the fastest qualifying time for the USA. Seth Wescott and Nate Holland both moved onto the Quarter Finals but Nick Baumgartner and Watanabe didn’t. Baumgartner was ranked 20 and Watanabe ranked 18. Both Wescott and Holland made it though the Quarter Finals and onto the Semi-Finals where both made it into the Big Final. Wescott was able to defend his 2006 Gold Medal while Holland took 4th. Mike Robertson of Canada took Silver and Tony Ramoin of France took the Bronze.
Ladies’ Snowboard Cross got started after a rain and fog delay with a field of 24 riders. Only the top 16 moved onto the Quarter Finals though. 2 of the 3 USA team riders made it to the Quarter Finals with Lindsey Jacobellis having the fastest USA qualifying time. Jacobellis was able to move onto the Semi-Finals but Faya Gulini wasn’t able to. Jacobellis was forced off the course during the Semi-Finals so she was disqualified but got to go the Small Final where she took first and ranked 5th. Mealle Ricker of Canada ended up with the Gold medal, Deborah Anthonioz of France took the Silver and Olivia Nobs of Switzerland took the Bronze.
Men’s Halfpipe was all about Shaun White and if he would be able to defend his Gold medal from the 2006 Winter Olympics. The field of 40 riders that needed to qualify for the 12 spots that moved onto the Semi-Finals or the 6 spots that moved directly to the final was full of talent from around the world. China, Japan, Finland, USA and France all had talented riders that were going to set the qualifying standard high. There were two heats and the top 3 riders from each heat moved directly to the final. Shaun White and Louie Vito both moved directly to the finals while Scotty Lago and Gregory Bretz only moved onto the Semi-Finals. Both Bretz and Lago had no problem making it to the finals in the Semi-Final round. With 12 riders in the Final and 4 of them being Americans it looked like the USA could sweep the medal stand. Bretz had a lot of trouble in the Finals after putting down some great runs in the Semi-Finals and end up being 12th. Vito had a great first run that put him in 5th but a fall during his second run kept him in 5th. Lago had the same problem but at least his first score let him sit in 3rd place and to take the Bronze medal. White was last to go in the Finals but didn’t waste time taking the number one position on the board. White’s first run scored 46.8 out of 50 so there wasn’t much room for improvement but on his second run he scored 48.4 to secure him the Gold medal without a question of his greatness. Peety Piiroinen of Finland was able to grab the Silver medal.
Ladies’ Halfpipe was just as exciting as the Men’s event. Hannah Teter looked to defend her Gold medal from the 2006 Games and Gretchen Bleiler was looking to do better than her Silver medal in the 2006 Games. There were 30 ladies that tried to qualify but only 18 did. The top 6 moved straight to the Final round. Kelly Clark, Teter and Bleiler all moved directly to the Finals while Elena Hight only moved onto the Semi-Finals. In the Semi-Finals Hight was able to take 4th place and move onto the finals with her other 3 team mates. Bleiler didn’t have a very good Final round and ended taking 11th place. Hight was right above her at 10th place. Clark was able to score big time on her second run and take the Bronze medal while Teter’s first run score kept her in 2nd place and the Silver medal. Torah Bright of Australia was able to make up for her first run score of 5.9 and post a score of 45.0 on her second run, taking home the Gold medal.
Next up for the snowboarding is the Parallel Giant Slalom. The Ladies’ event takes place on February 26th and the Men’s event takes place on the 27th.