Shaun White cruises through halfpipe qualifying in Sochi
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — After breezing through qualifying, Shaun White has promised something special for Tuesday night’s Olympic halfpipe final.
"You heard the rumors," he said. "I’ve been working on some big tricks."
Could it be the "Yolo" — a double-flipping jump with four spins? Or maybe the triple cork — that’s three flips, head-over-heels — he worked on for about a year, but supposedly abandoned?
"There’s definitely something special," he said. "I’m going to play it by ear, though."
White said he remains happy with his decision to pull out of the slopestyle competition to give himself three full days of practice on a halfpipe at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park that’s been less-than-ideal from the start.
"I’m really hoping it holds up for finals," he said.
The 27-year-old, in search of his third straight gold medal in the event, strung together back-to-back double corks in his first qualifying heat to score a 95.75. On the second, he slipped up on his final jump, which he said was just a practice run for things he might try later.
Also qualifying for the finals were American Danny Davis, Ayumu Hirano and Taku Hiraoka of Japan, and Christian Haller and David Habluetzel of Switzerland.
Swiss star Iouri Podladtchikov — the "I-Pod" — qualified through the semifinals and will likely try the Yolo himself. He’s the first man to land it in competition.
Conditions were warm and the bottom of the pipe was slow because of granular, slushy snow. But many of the riders said some of the problems they faced in training with the overly vertical shaping of the pipe have improved.
"It’s going to be tricky, but it’s going to really show the good actual snowboarder," Britain’s Dominic Harington said after being eliminated. "If you’re good at snowboarding, you should be able to get on your back foot and you should prepare for the bumps, so you should know how to deal with it."