A day before the world's best snowboarders are set to showcase their talents in the Olympic halfpipe competition at Sochi, Russia, riders are saying that the pipe has deteriorated and that they're unable to link together their most difficult tricks.
Two training sessions had to be canceled Monday on the course at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, because the ice became slushy and bumps developed at the bottom of the U-shaped pipe. This caused some athletes to push for an unlikely postponement to Tuesday's men's competition and Wednesday's women's competition.
First-time Olympian Danny Davis, who is expected to challenge Shaun White for the gold medal, described the course as "garbage" to Yahoo Sports.
"It's the Olympics. It should be flawless," Davis said. "What a lame showcase of snowboarding, and what a lame way to treat athletes."
White, the defending two-time champion who is trying to become the first American male athlete to win three gold medals in the same sport in three consecutive Winter Olympics, told USA Today:
"The first day [of practice], 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."
Torah Bright, the 2010 Olympic halfpipe champion from Australia, was asked by the Guardian if the halfpipe was up to standard. Her reply:
"No, definitely not. The people who are constructing the pipe aren't the greatest at their craft and it makes it challenging for us. No one is able to ride their best today. We've had two days of training and you can't even link a run."
Hannah Teter, the 2006 Olympic gold medalist, issued a statement saying, "They should push it back."
Several riders agreed with Teter as course workers scrambled to make whatever changes they could.
Pipe builder John Melville blamed warm weather and TV crews, which prevented crews from using machinery while nearby events were in progress.
To be sure, there seems to be plenty of blame to spread around.
Said Davis: "It needs a lot of work because they hired the wrong folks to do it. It's a shame because it's bumpy. When the pipe is good, snowboarding is really fun. But when the pipe is bad, it's not fun."
If the course isn't vastly improved overnight, by some miracle, fans can probably expect sub-par performances Tuesday, and they may or may not see White's new cab double-cork 1440, which he hoped to use to help win a third consecutive gold medal.
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