One of the greatest spectacles of any Winter Games in recent memory is the halfpipe event.
The 2014 Games' edition is especially a must-see event thanks to headliners like Shaun White, the two-time defending champ, and controversy surrounding the halfpipe itself in the buildup to the event.
As far as events from Sochi, Russia, go, the halfpipe has enough star power and eye-popping tricks and drama to attract even casual viewers to the sport. Feb. 11 is literally a halfpipe extravaganza with all three of the men's events taking place one after the other.
Don't miss out.
Note: All info courtesy of Sochi2014.com unless otherwise specified.
|Men's Halfpipe – Qualification||5 a.m. EST|
|Men's Halfpipe – Semifinal||10 a.m. EST|
|Men's Halfpipe – Final||12:30 p.m. EST|
When: Tuesday, Feb. 11
Where: Rosa Khutor Extreme Park
Channel: NBC, 8 p.m. EST
Live Stream: NBCOlympics.com
Storylines to Watch
Rather than simple excitement for the men's event, the main headline has been the condition of the halfpipe leading up to Tuesday thanks to alleged bad conditions for riders.
Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan has the details, and they are not pretty:
The halfpipe issues in Sochi are significant. Practice postponed today. One source called it "unsalvageable." A lot of work left to be done.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 10, 2014
Passan followed up with more detail in article form, including a quote from American rider Danny Davis:
"It's the Olympics. It should be flawless," Davis told Yahoo Sports. "What a lame showcase of snowboarding, and what a lame way to treat the athletes."
Gold-medal favorite Shaun White added his perspective after a training session on Sunday night, via Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today:
The first day, the walls were a little over-[vertical], so everybody was doing airs, and then landing like pretty flat. Today, they made the walls better so everybody lands [correctly], but in the flat bottom, where they cut it, it's like a bump, so everyone is riding along and then hits the bump, and that's really not very good.
Despite the controversy, the spectacle will go on and adds another layer of intrigue to an event that already qualified as must-see action on its own merits.
Can Anyone Compete With Shaun White?
Really, the only question mark concerns White and if anyone can stop his utter global dominance in the event.
White's success extends as far back as a full decade, with the veteran consistently sparking new innovation with things such as the Double McTwist 1260 (Tomahawk) he pulled off in Vancouver en route to the gold.
If there is one person who can dethrone White this season, it may be Japan's Ayumu Hirano, otherwise known as "Mumu."
The 15-year-old sensation finished second only to White at the 2013 Winter X Games. Interestingly enough, White himself had some kind words for Mumu recently, via The Japan Times:
Definitely everyone’s got a great chance to do well and he (Hirano) especially has potential to put out a great run. He goes really big out of the halfpipe, he’s smooth, he’s consistent, the only thing that . . . it’s tough to say, I remember being his age competing, it’s a tough position to be in. I’m definitely watching for him to see what his run’s going to be. (But) I feel like he’s going to really have to pull some runs together to challenge myself and some of the other competitors in the halfpipe.
White has a point in that Mumu's inexperience may hurt him on the biggest stage of all, but Hirano has consistently proved over the past year to be one of the world's best and technically sound enough to compete with anybody.
Regardless, an epic showdown seems to be in the cards, not to mention the rest of a hungry field for White's loss also having something to say about the outcome.