Words: Pat Bridges
The culmination of four years of Mad-Libs, word association and adjective use came down to tonight. Yes, that's right. SNOWBOARDER Magazine has been training for this moment since we stepped on the plane in Torino bound for the US after the United States Snowboard Team took the top two spots in Italy. Now is the time to continue what we started in the boot, in the land where they are prone to say "aboot."
We awoke in SNOWBOARDER's mobile command unit (RV parked on the side of the road) and made our way via 2 buses and a ferry to the venue at Cypress. Blue skies, sun and warm weather greeted our crew as the riders practiced and we decided to buy a few beverages. As the afternoon progressed, we kept schwiling while the riders kept killing.
“Everyone said that the Olympics were Shaun's to lose”
Though the results sheet may not reflect this observation, the perceived gap between the American halfpipe contingent and the rest of the international field is continuing to narrow. Standout performances were had by all the finalists, most notably Iouri Podlatchikov, Kazuhiro Kokubo, Markus Malin and Ryo Aono. Though the Americans were favored to sweep this event in Vancouver, it was apparent form the get-go that this would most likely not be the case. Instead, untimely falls by Greg Bretz and a lack of amplitude from Louie Vito would mean that the United States would have to settle for two medals.
New Hampshire's own Scotty Lago came to Vancouver as the rider's rider. With Danny Kass's absence from the 2010 Games, Lago filled that void, and in his first Olympic appearance, Lago left with a bronze medal hanging from his neck. Scotty was in second place for most of the finals, but was bested by none other than Peetu Piiroinen. Regardless, the fact that Lago was on the podium tonight was a win in any snowboarder's column. He chalked one up for the good guys, and we couldn't be more proud to report that to you.
When SNOWBOARDER Magazine recently spoke with US Team head coach Bud Keene, he told us that one of the European riders to watch would be Peetu Piiroinen, saying that Peetu "knows how to peak when it counts." Truer words have nary been spoken, as Peetu's second run was arguably the biggest of the evening, though he lacked the technicality of Shaun White. Regardless, Peetu landed himself a silver medal and his country's bragging rights as Finland's highest-finishing competitor in Finland's Olympic halfpipe history.
Everyone said that the Olympics were Shaun White’s to lose. Though this was the case, White didn't disappoint. His first run put him in the lead in the first heat, and it wasn't to be beat, that is, until his victory lap in which Shaun White beat his own score by almost three points. Though his receiving the gold was a done deal Shaun opted to man up to a run that wasn't only rife with more airtime and difficulty but it also culminated with a trick absent from his earlier routines, the elusive backside 1260 double Mctwist! This is the trick that has been dubbed the "Most Dangerous Trick In Snowboarding." This move, which ended Kevin Pearce's Olympic hopes in December and nearly sent Shaun down Ajax in a sled three weeks ago, is a high consequence trick under the best of circumstances. With the gold as good as, well, gold, Shaun White could have played it safe but he decided to give the Vancouver crowd their money's worth. For that we salute Shaun. Furthermore we salute all of the American male pipe competitors who rode their best and continued our record of earning 2 out of every 3 Olympic halfpipe medals in history!
2010 Vancouver Olympics Men’s Halfpipe Results
Gold: Shaun White
Silver: Peetu Piiroinen
Bronze: Scotty Lago