Daily Updates — Live from Nagano

Dunn's got good karma
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Halfpipe Reigns On Olympic Rings
Americans Take Home Medals but Thost and Simmen Covet Gold
Thursday, Feb. 12, 1998
Kanbayashi, Japan

The induction of snowboarding halfpipe into the Olympic arena was a dreamy one. Not the tranquil, soul satisfying kind, more like the surreal, unanswered kind that leaves you guessing for days.

The day began calmly enough with masses of spectators marching up the tiny Kanbayashi Snowboard Park. After a hundred meter march, we came to realize that not only was this place simply a halfpipe and a couple of kickers, but the tickets we and the majority of the spectators held were barely in view of any possible action unless it involved the concession stands.

photo Barrett got bounced
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I looked to our fearless Far East correspondent for help. I told him that if he didn't get us into better viewing he was fired and he'd never meet Barrett Christy again. With that we began walking the perimeter looking for a weak link. Sure enough we hopped a couple fences, skirted behind a couple buildings and followed some CBS guys looking very important. We had made it pipe-side.

"If he didn't get us into better viewing he was fired..."
Practice came and went with unusual conservatism. The pipe stood steep and symmetrical rim to rim. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, but there was an uneasy feel about the sessioning going on today. This contest wasn't about some drinking money.

As the riders began dropping in, everyone could see that there was a newfound sense of awareness to this competition. None would be held back. The crowd had horns ready for any extra large moves or any locals about to step up.

There will always be the people who weren't there (eh-Haakonsen). The ones that were there today and didn't make it to the finals are the hardest tales to tell. Sure there was Trevor Andrew who went soooooo damn big, turbulence became a problem, but there was a slew of others whose runs were judged to be flawed. Anyway, by the time the finals did come around, not only had we heard a bunch of groovy music because the riders got to pick the songs they rode to, but we were witness to a couple of photographers getting taken out for being a little too close to the action. The skies rained heavily on us for hours and thunder threatened all who dared sit on the metal bleachers.

photo Kjeldaas
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After the first run of the finals, it looked as though Shannon Dunn would use her 720 and McTwist to secure herself gold, with Nicola Thost, Stine Brun Kjeldaas and Maelle Ricker scraping for other medals. Shannon fell back near the bottom of her final run and lost her momentum, but that didn't stop her from sticking her McTwist. It did, however, put her out of gold contention.

This sketch opened the door for Nicola Thost, whom many of the female competitors chose to win. Stine Brun stood her ground and claimed silver for Norway and Shannon brought the bronze medal to the home of snowboarding. The thing that never changed on Shannon today was her gleaming smile. She was ecstatic with every run, regardless of meaning, blinding rain or outcome.

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The men's finals were nothing shy of cuckoo. Markus Hurme and Mike Michalchuck went into the finals with the best scores, but with the likes of Daniel Franck, Fabian Rohrer [click to hear Fabian's interview] and a few amazingly fluid French riders, the bag of medals was wide open.

Everyone watched intently as Canada's Brett Carpentier showed an outstandingly BIIIIIG first run, while the US's Todd Richards sat down, forcing a furious second run on himself. It was like the women. Two times down that allowed no errors.

Ask Rippey
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Ross Powers stepped it up for America after getting advice from Jim Rippey — add another inversion to the routine. He did and it brought him bronze. Michalchuck sketched and lost his momentum and he never did bust out that double backflip everyone's been talking about.

Brett Carpentier crashed badly on his second run. Daniel and Fabian were both showing amazing strength and enormous moves that would extend them into the flats letting their legs just suck it up without any sign of impact. It came down to points and the judges' outlook for the day. Daniel Franck took Silver to Gian Simmen's first gold in halfpipe today.

By the end of it, they all looked like wet rats. No one knew who the winners were and fireworks filled the area with burning smoke. Snowboarding had gone Olympic under melting rain, thunder and fruity foreign commentating. It can't get any weirder.

— Hansu Prozo, Impersonating CBS Execs for The Mountain Zone


1 Nicola Thost  Germany   74.6
2 Stine Brun Kjeldaas Norway 74.2
3 Shannon Dunn  United States 72.8
4 Cara-Beth Burnside  United States 72.6
5 Maelle Ricker Canada  71.1
6 Minna Hesso Finland 70.8
7 Jenny Jonsson Sweden 65.9
8 Jennie Waara Sweden  62.7

French class
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1 Gian Simmen Switzerland  85.2
2 Daniel Franck Norway 82.4
3 Ross Powers United States 82.1
4 Fabien Rohrer Switzerland 78.7
5 Guillaume Chastagnol France 78.3
6 Jacob Soderqvist  Sweden 77.8
7 Sebastian Kuhlberg Finland  76.6
8 Michael Michalchuk Canada 76.0
9 Brett Carpentier Canada  75.6
10 Jonathan Collomb-Patton France 75.5
11 Jussi Ilmari Oksanen Finland 73.6
12 Jean Baptiste Charlet France 73.4
13 Markus Mikael Hurme Finland 73.0
14 Lauri Aleksi Litovaara Finland 71.9
15 Klas Vangen Norway 70.9
16 Todd Richards United States 69.6

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