On Feb.14, 12 snowboarders who made the final cut for the men’s snowboarding half-pipe event participated in the final run at Phoenix Park for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.
Shaun White, a snowboarder representing the United States, received his third Olympic gold medal with a finishing score of 97.75 on his last run. Ayumu Hirano, representing Japan, and Scotty James, representing Australia, placed second and third, respectively.
“It was an overwhelming experience. I have never been in a foreign country for an event like the Olympics, so it was surreal to be chanting ‘U.S.A.’ with a mob of people, and that definitely allowed me to feel the Olympic fervor,” said Patrick Young, high school English teacher. “Specifically, Shaun White had a lot of different type of tricks with a diverse range, which made it interesting to watch.”
The half-pipe is designed in a semi-circular structure so that the snowboarders can perform various tricks while moving across the sides of the pipe. When momentum builds up, along with speed, athletes can go as high as 12 meters up in the air. Half-pipe snowboarders are given three opportunities to score the highest as possible by executing a number of flips and turns, in which the top three highest scoring players are awarded the three Olympic medals.
“Before going to watch the event, I did not know of the half-pipe snowboarding event or any of the prominent athletes, like Shaun White. Even so, watching the very competitive races was an exciting experience. Now I am interested in not only the athletes but also snowboarding as a sport. I look forward to attending many more Olympic snowboarding events in the future,” Hannah Kim (11) said.
Even the most talented snowboarders can experience severe injuries and falls throughout his or her run—while coming down the slopes on his second run, Japanese snowboarder Yuto Totsuka suffered an unfortunate fall that led to him being dragged down on a stretcher without finishing his final turn. White also had a minor accident on his second run, but continued to finish off strong on his last run, outscoring Hirano by 2.5 points.
On the day of the event, fans from all over the world convened to watch their athletes hit the half-pipes. While none of the Korean snowboarders qualified for the final run, many still went to witness the Olympic spirit. As the game ended, the audience members proudly waved their country’s flags, regardless of what rank the athletes placed.