Pity the poor U. S. snowboarders in slopestyle and pipe! It’s bad enough to have the best riders in the world use the American Olympic qualifying events for their own country’s qualifiers—why should Norway and other countries build their own Olympic level half pipe and slopestyle course if they can get the U. S. to do it for them?
But the third event of the five qualifiers seems to be under some kind of curse. It was originally scheduled for Northstar, at Tahoe. But that resort didn’t have enough snow. So it was rescheduled for Breckenridge, Colorado, which had already held an earlier qualifier.
But during the comp, dumping snow caused a whiteout, 30-40 mph winds made it dangerous to get air, and so the riders were called off and the event was once again canceled.
The result was lots of drama over whether the scores of those who had already competed would count. After all, what did it matter who won, when half the field didn’t get to go before the contest was called off?
The FIS (International Ski Federation), governing body for skiing and snowboarding, tossed the few results obtained from the weatherbeaten snowboard pipe/slopestyle qualifier.
The event has now been moved to Mammoth Mountain, in California. The Mammoth course crew won’t have to hustle too much—the new Grand Prix will be held along with the already scheduled fourth and final fifth qualifier—which was already planned to take place at Mammoth.
But this time, only U. S. snowboarders will be allowed to compete. Even those entries will be limited to the male and female athletes who were eligible to run at Breck. No way that local hero Jonny Doe can sneak into and win the Mammoth replacement, thus messing up the existing field of Sochi contenders.
But feel sorry for the competing athletes. The Olympic team has yet to be named. The comp they were all looking forward to has been canceled twice. Now, instead of having some time to rest up and get their competitive chops in the right place, they will have three qualifiers in four days.
Prelims will take place Thursday, January 16, and Friday, January 17, with slope finals Saturday and halfpipe finals Sunday The announcement of the Olympic team roster will follow the final halfpipe event on the 19th.
Aside from who rides the best at Mammoth, the world will learn which American athletes can bring it when the pressure get so intense, the rest of us mere mortals can’t even imagine it .