Bow down. Photo: Sam Mellish
Night shift: Tom Copsey, Ed Blomfield, Andrew Duthie, Sam McMahon
While the nightmare winds that have been plaguing the Phoenix Park snowboard setup didn’t have quite such a spanner-in-works-throwing effect on yesterday’s pipe qualifiers as it did on the women’s slopestyle finals, it did effect the runs and worryingly the forecast was for more of the same for pipe finals day. Read on to see how it all played out…
First off: Hats off the the Yanks. They certainly know how to breed good pipe riders and today’s finals saw all four in with a shot. You know enough about Chloe Kim and Kelly Clark (two women at opposite ends of their careers) by now, but we’d also been impressed by Maddie Mastro and Arielle Gold’s runs enough to be thinking there was a chance of an all-USA podium today if the stars aligned.
“Hats off the the Yanks. They certainly know how to breed good pipe riders and today’s finals saw all four in with a shot”
However, China’s Liu Jiau had impressed, qualifying in second (with her Davis-esque switch backside first hit Method), and Haruna Matsumoto’s consistency down the superpipe’s length getting her through in third was impressive. There was also enough shown by some of the other 12 finalists to have us thinking that – while the gold medal still looked like Kim’s to lose – the other podium spots were less predictable.
As with all contests, though, qualification is all about doing enough to get in the finals without dropping your best run or taking too many chances. Would the wind permit this? It was a glorious bluebird day in PyeongChang and mercifully the wind seemed to have finally relented, and when mixed with the laser shaped U-tube this made for arguably the best conditions for an Olympic pipe finals in years.