WRAP: Australia’s bright days in the pipe
24 February 2014
SNOWBOARD – HALFPIPE: Not even next-to-no preparation for her signature event, Snowboard Halfpipe, could keep Torah Bright off the podium, such is her amazing talent.
Bright recorded Australia's first medal of the Games, a silver, and in doing so the 2010 gold medallist became Australia’s most successful female Winter Olympian.
Embarking on a demanding competition schedule in Sochi of Snowboard Cross, Slopestyle and Halfpipe was also not enough to deny Bright her second Olympic medal.
As one of the best women’s Halfpipe riders of all-time, Bright focused on the other two events throughout the World Cup season leading up to Sochi, meaning that her time in the pipe was next to zero when she arrived for the Games.
To finish a mere 0.25 of a point behind the gold medallists, American Kaitlyn Farrington, ahead of former Olympic Champion American Kelly Clark and others in the high class field, underlined the undeniable talent of the Australian.
Three-time Olympian Holly Crawford was still recovering from a crash three weeks ago, in which she broke her left wrist, banged her knee and cracked some ribs. She showed off her great tricks and amplitude but wasn’t able to deliver a clean run, finishing 26th. Her teammate Hannah Trigger was also unlucky not to progress from qualifications, finishing 20th.
Youngster Steph Magiros snagged the last spot in the semi-finals in a big career boost for the former gymnast. She finished in 18th position.
The day before Bright’s heroics, 18-year-old Kent Callister showed his potential by finishing ninth in a star-studded field, prompting the young gun to declare that he had the time of his life.
“It was just unreal. That’s the best contest I’ve ever been in,” Callister said.
“I just had so much fun out there riding with everyone. It was a really good experience.”
The teenager who lives in both the USA and Australia, had to fight hard to earn his place in the final.
His first run saw him fall at the end of his fourth trick, scoring just 40.00 points. Sitting in 10th, he pulled out all stops and scored 68.50, which was never going to be enough to earn a spot on the podium, given the calibre of the field which included Shaun White, the American that most say is the greatest Halfpipe rider of all time.
At the end of the night Russian-born Swiss rider Iouri Podladtchikov grabbed the gold with 94.75, ahead of Japanese teammates Ayumu Hirano in the silver medal position with 93.50 and Taku Hiraoka with bronze on 92.25.
While “I-Pod” was a worthy winner, it was expected that the mercurial White would make it three Olympic golds in a row but he had to settle for fourth.
Another 2011 World Champion Australian Nathan Johnstone narrowly missed a spot in the final by just one place, finishing 13th overall.
Scotty James experienced a day to forget when he failed to make it past the heats, ending the event in 21st.