KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – Snowboard riders continued to condemn the quality of the halfpipe at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on Monday night, with former gold medalist Hannah Teter saying Olympic officials should postpone the competition until the pipe improves and two-time gold medalist Shaun White saying he cannot throw his best tricks under current conditions.
"They should push it back," Teter said, a sentiment with which a handful of other riders agreed, though all admitted that scenario was unlikely.
Instead, they expressed hope that pipe cutter John Melville could salvage a halfpipe with significant bumps on the transitions and excessive sugary snow in the flat bottom. The issues, riders said, caused far more falls than in a typical practice.
Reigning women's halfpipe gold medalist Torah Bright cut her training session early after a crash and told Yahoo Sports: "It's just really harsh conditions out there." White admitted he was having trouble throwing his cab double cork 1440, a new trick that could separate him from competitors looking to dethrone him.
After smooth early runs, riders said the halfpipe deteriorated later in practice, an issue that could be compounded with warm temperatures atop the mountain. Similar issues dogged the halfpipe in the Vancouver Games, but a freeze the night before the competition allowed officials to mend the pipe. A similar sort of temperature drop is not expected before Tuesday's men's competition and Wednesday's women's run, and Melville admitted to Yahoo Sports the conditions could pose problems in retrofitting the pipe.
"It's going to be a challenge with the weather," he said.
Melville said the halfpipe's dreadful conditions on Sunday night were caused by a television broadcaster-prompted delay. He said his team could not properly treat the pipe during a moguls competition because broadcasters did not want the noise of the halfpipe-cutting machines to interrupt live coverage. The team in charge of fixing the pipe stayed up until 9 a.m. local time Monday trying to fix it after a meeting with coaches grew heated, with multiple officials complaining about the pipe's problems.
The depth of the issues surfaced when American rider Danny Davis told Yahoo Sports on Monday morning that the halfpipe was "garbage" and blamed it on the International Olympic Committee not using Snowpark Technologies, considered the industry leader in pipe cutting.
Other riders echoed his sentiment after practice Monday night, and even with the improvements, the halfpipe remained sub-standard.
"I didn't have expectations coming here," American rider Arielle Gold said. "But whatever expectations I had, this doesn't fulfill them."
Still, she and the other riders held out hope that Melville could somehow remedy the problems, a difficult task with less than 24 hours before the men's finals.
"It's the Olympics," Gold said. "Miracles can happen."