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Snowboarders rip 'brutal' halfpipe day before competition begins

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

The halfpipe in Sochi is facing some criticism. (Getty Images)
The halfpipe in Sochi is facing some criticism. (Getty Images)

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The Olympic halfpipe competition is set to open on Tuesday with the men's qualification runs followed by the final on Tuesday night in Sochi. The builders might have some work to do before then.

Veteran American competitor Danny Davis expressed some strong concerns about the halfpipe itself about 24 hours before the competition. This isn't about safety, it's about the standards of the pipe and right now, the course in Sochi isn't up to par.

Yahoo's Jeff Passan spoke with Davis who was none too complimentary.

American Danny Davis, one of the sport's most respected figures, said the pipe's flat bottom -- the area that serves as a transition between the 22-foot-tall walls on each side -- is bumpy and full of sugary snow, causing significant problems for riders. Two other sources confirmed Davis' concerns, with one calling the halfpipe "unsalvageable."

"It's the Olympics. It should be flawless," Davis told Yahoo Sports. "What a lame showcase of snowboarding, and what a lame way to treat the athletes."

Davis wasn't quite done there, though, taking aim at the decision to go with New Zealand-based Development Snowparks for the Games.

"The IOC probably didn't want to pay the right guys to do it," Davis said. "I'm pretty sure what they're focused on is keeping as much money in their hands as possible. That's the shame of it all. All these kids, myself included, worked very hard to get here. And then the pipe is just no fun and boring and [expletive]. Halfpipe is super fun. But riding a crappy pipe and having to perform in it is the worst."

The criticism of the halfpipe didn't just come from Davis, either. The defending gold medalist on the women's side, Australia Torah Bright, was equally tough. From the Guardian:

"It's brutal and all you can do is kinda laugh in there," Bright told Network Ten.

Asked if it was up to standard, she replied: "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."

Not helping matters in any way, shape or form has been the weather in and around Sochi. The temperatures were climbing near 60 degrees in the city on Monday, hardly ideal for working with snow and building proper tracks.

The concerns about the course are certainly understandable with the halfpipe relying on the spectacle for its performance. Watching the competitors soar into the air pulling off tricks is what appeals to so many and makes it one of the more popular competitions at the Olympics. If the pipe hinders that show, everybody suffers, even if the competition itself remains even since they all will be in the same pipe.

Halfpipe is the one event that American star Shaun White will be competing in, going for his third straight Olympic gold after winning the first two editions at the Olympics. Qualification will take place at 5 a.m. ET on Tuesday with the semifinals at 10 ET all before the final is held at 12:30 p.m. ET on the men's side. The women will decide their medals on Wednesday.

 
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