Nothing seems to faze Shaun White, arguably the biggest star at the Winter Olympics.
The two-time defending halfpipe gold medalist nailed his first qualifying run on Tuesday with a 95.75, which guaranteed him a spot in the finals later this evening. It wasn't as if he held back on the second run, either, going for huge air and a few of his bigger tricks, knowing that a place in the finals was almost a foregone conclusion.
After dropping in on his first run, White landed a massive method and then backed it up with consecutive double-corks. His qualifying run ensures White's chance at a third-straight gold medal in the halfpipe finals to be held later on Tuesday.
American Danny Davis received an automatic bye to the finals as well after throwing down a qualifying score of 92.00. US snowboarders Taylor Gold and Greg Bretz had runs good enough to qualify them for the semifinals.
"I've got to step it up to beat Shaun. He'll have to step up his run as well." Danny Davis, on his way to halfpipe final tonight.— John Branch (@JohnBranchNYT) February 11, 2014
White's qualifying group was initially delayed about 20 minutes due to problems with the halfpipe -- an ongoing issue in Sochi with temperatures warmer than expected. Prior to his run, Davis had some descriptive words for workers trying to shore up the halfpipe.
Both White and Davis said the halfpipe rode better than it had in practice earlier in the week.
"Yesterday was a nightmare and it's so much better to wake up and discover it was all a dream," White said.
"They salted and watered [the pipe] after we called in help from the alpine team," said a spokeswoman for the International Ski Federation. "We used something similar to an infield sprinkler in baseball because we don't want the pressure of the water to leave indents in the snow."
The top-3 from each heat automatically advance to the finals, while the next six from each group advance to the semis. Six of the 12 semifinalists advance to the finals, awaiting the other six automatic qualifiers.
White dropped out of the slopestyle competition to focus on his main discipline, and it appears, as of now, to have paid off.