“Salt Lake City is the safest place in the country, at least for the next two weeks anyway,” the television news reported this morning, which would explain the full-blown, airport-style metal detector we were shuttled through on our way up to the halfpipe to check out the second-to-last day of training.
Once inside the compound/pipe area, we were confronted with a blustery and snow-ridden situation for the day’s training. The flat light was really making things tough for riders to seriously train, and most were just taking it easy with mellow ollies and safety tricks.
Norwegian competitor Kim Christiansen, one of the few brave souls actually throwing down tricks, confirmed that the low visibility was really messing with his riding today: “I do an air, and my eyes are totally in different place than where they should be. The transitions here are really quick, and especially when I do an air-to-fakie, I land and can’t get my eyes to the wall.”
But Kim was stoked on the pipe and what could happen in it with perfect weather: “If it’s not windy, you can go monster big. You should have seen it yesterday—people were going the same height as the pipe is high.”
“The weather’s been a little nasty,” said U.S. Assistant Halfpipe Coach Heath Van Aken about today’s training. “But the pipe’s looking pretty good, and people are mainly taking today off since they’ve already had three days of training. Riders are getting used the pipe—the length and how steep it is. Tomorrow you’ll see real competition runs come out.”
Just how different those competition runs will be from what we’ve witnessed all winter remains to be seen. When asked if she’d seen any new cats let out of the trick bag over the past couple days, American rider Tricia Byrnes answered, “Not really … pretty much the same stuff. It’s only a couple weeks after the X-Games, you know.” And with one more training day left before the women’s competition on Sunday, it’s about time for riders to start turning up the heat.
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