Watching the women’s ski slopestyle final yesterday, Ice Age’s hapless sabre-toothed squirrel Scrat and his all too fleeting embraces with his precious acorn came to mind. For 30 tantalising minutes, we had a bronze medal in our fingertips. Or at least Anna Segal did. And then a Canadian took it off her.
Ski slopestyle is an unfathomable event where in some cases competitors ski and jump backwards. BACKWARDS! I went skiing once and I couldn’t even stay on the T-bar. So this impresses me.
Anna prepared for the final by getting a cold, not much sleep, her knee ligaments hanging on by a piece of dental floss and generally feeling not so flash. And it almost got her on the podium. She did set a record of sorts though. It’s apparently the first time ever — and we’re talking 78 years here — that an Aussie has come fourth in a Winter Olympics event. Which is a bizarre statistic.
The major peril the slopestylers had to contend with was the tropical Sochi sun, which turned the course into a gigantic slushie. The mushy conditions made it hard for the girls to get up enough speed for their jumps and there were stacks aplenty, with one competitor stretchered off after breaking her jaw.
The safety debate continued to rage, with the halfpipe copping most of the flak. Torah Bright’s coach and brother Ben led the charge in a sweary rant, labelling the course ‘@#$%ing retarded’, while his mum went straight to the top, appealing to the Vlad to personally build a new one.
The contentious course was the scene of the biggest boilover of the Games, with snowboarding’s most glittering star, two-time American gold medallist Shaun White, failing to make the podium.
White pulled out of the slopestyle a few days ago so he could focus all his energy on winning the halfpipe for the third time. That plan went to custard when he almost snapped his board on his first finals run and, with everything on the line in the second, basically cracked under the pressure to come fourth. The new kids on the block are a Russian-born Swiss known as I-Pod and a 15-year-old Japanese wunderkind. Aussie Kent Callister, whose great uncle invented Vegemite, came a creditable ninth.
In this event we were introduced to a lot of strangely named manoeuvres, such as the ‘back to back dove’ , the ‘double crippler’, the ‘backside method’ and the ‘frontside misty’. I-Pod showed us a move called the YOLO, as in You Only Live Once. There were also a lot of ‘cabs’, which means the halfpipe is either full of red wine or taxis and no wonder people are saying it’s not safe.
At the end of Day Four, we are tied for last in the medal count with about 300 other countries. But we’re in the hunt. As the Australian Olympic Committee pointed out on Twitter, we’ve had a 7th, a 6th, a 5th and a 4th at these Games. Next stop, the podium.
They said it
“Pull it down, Mr Putin, and start again.” Torah Bright’s mum slams the halfpipe
“I’ve come to the point of being diplomatic, but it’s actually very sh*t.” A career in the United Nations seems out of the question for Torah Bright’s coach and brother Ben, also no fan of the Sochi halfpipe
“It just wasn’t my night, which is a bummer because it’s a big night.” Shaun White on missing the medals in the halfpipe
“To this eye, White is the only non-phony in a faux-bro-culture club populated by flakes to whom logic is a foreign language.” thestar.com admires Shaun White’s killer instinct in a sport where everyone’s a buddy
“That Canadian, I hate her.” Rampaging Roy Slaven of the chick that nudged Anna Segal out of the bronze medal spot
“I woke up this morning feeling groggy and horrible.” And you should do that more often, Anna Segal