KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (USA TODAY) -For all the concerns riders had about the Olympic halfpipe here, it proved to be good enough in Tuesday's qualification.
ShaunWhite was the highest-scoring rider in his heat and overall at RosaKhutor Extreme Park, advancing him to the Olympic final later tonight.All four Americans advanced, either through to the final or to thesemifinal.
"It's bumpy, but it's much better than practice," saidDanny Davis, who finished third in the second qualification heat andmoved on to the final.
"It's like Mt. Hood, we're used to it."
Thetop three riders from each of two heats moved on to the final tonight,while the fourth through ninth riders in each heat moved on to a 12-mansemifinal. Half of those riders will make the final.
Taylor Gold and Greg Bretz each made it through to the semifinal, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. local time (10 a.m. EST).
"Iwas nervous actually," said Davis. "I don't really get that nervous forcontests, but there was a lot of hype on this contest. My family'shere. We're in Russia. Gotta make it count.
"I think I gotta step it up to beat Shaun. He'll have to step up his run as well, so it'll be an interesting final."
Whitescored a 95.75 on a first run that included a 22-foot method andback-to-back double corks. The two-time defending gold medalist used hissecond run for practice and did not score higher.
On his first run down the pipe, Davis scored a 92.00 to finish third behind White and Japan's Tako Hiraoka.
Theriders competed Tuesday after concerns about the pipe that persistedsince they started training on Saturday. On Monday night, several voiceconcerns about safety and the bumpiness in the flat bottom of the pipe.
"There'snot a whole lot of control in there, it's kind of just hanging on fordear life," said Gold, whose second run scored 87.50 to place him fifthin the second heat. "I kinda just tried to stay low and be powerful.
"Notpracticing your tricks at all and coming into an event it prettyprecarious on its own, let alone in a bumpy pipe. I'm getting my legsunder me with every run."
Bretz placed seventh in the first heat, scoring a 71.75 on a run that included a double cork.
Thepipe seemed to ride better during the second heat after several ridersfell from the first heat. Only 15-year-old Ayumu Hirano of Japan scoredbetter than an 84 in the first heat - he qualified for the final with ascore of 92.25 - while the top seven riders from the second heat topped84.
"It's gonna be tricky, but it's going to really show the goodactual snowboarder," said Great Britain's Dominic Harington, who did notadvance out of the first qualification heat.
"If you're good atsnowboarding, you should be able to get on your back foot and you shouldprepare for the bumps so you should know how to deal with it. It didn'twork out for me, but that's how it goes."
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