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Notebook: Olympic halfpipe problems mounting

Shaun White was one of the many snowboarders to fall during practice runs for Tuesday’s halfpipe event.
Shaun White was one of the many snowboarders to fall during practice runs for Tuesday’s halfpipe event.cameron spencer/getty images

Rider after rider took a crash course Monday night on an Olympic halfpipe in Krasnaya Polyana that looked only half ready with less than 24 hours until men’s competition is set to start.

There were dozens of falls, very few big tricks and a lot of complaining during a practice session that was pushed from morning to night while workers tried to make fixes. The men’s event is Tuesday, and American Shaun White will be seeking his third straight gold medal.

‘‘When you see every other person fall, you know something’s wrong,’’ said American Hannah Teter, who took gold in 2006 and silver four years ago. ‘‘It’s a little dangerous. I've seen more people fall today than I saw all season. It’s dangerous because it’s crappy.’’


American Danny Davis labeled the halfpipe as ‘‘garbage’’ on Sunday. After returning Monday, he said things were slightly improved but not ideal.

‘‘It’s a bummer to show up to an event like the Olympics and not have the quality of the halfpipe match the quality of the riders,’’ Davis said. ‘‘Anyone who watched practice tonight can see there were a bunch of people bouncing around in the flat bottom.’’

White called it ‘‘pretty hard to ride,’’ but said it was nothing riders haven’t dealt with before at other competitions.

‘‘The flat bottom is just sand and mush,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s pretty heavy. And once everyone gets in there, it just turns to mush.’’

Riders said the steeply vertical pitch of the halfpipe has largely been corrected. But the bottom of the pipe is bouncy and slow. Dozens of riders clattered through the bottom, which slows speed and causes wrecks.

Drone hovering

That drone you might have spotted hovering and zipping around the Sochi Olympic slopes isn’t searching for terrorists or protesters hiding behind the fir trees.


It’s being used to transmit live video of snowboard and ski jump competitions to a screen near you.

Unlike military drones, which often look like a remote-controlled airplane, the creature floating around Sochi resembles a huge flying spider. Drones are increasingly common at sporting events, and these Olympics are the highest-profile showcase yet for their use in broadcasting.

Datsyuk hurting

The Russians are resting Pavel Datsyuk, hoping he’ll be healthy enough to play in their Sochi Games opener Thursday.

Russia practiced Monday afternoon — for the first time since NHL players arrived— and Datsyuk was the only skater not on the ice.

The Detroit Red Wings have said Datsyuk has a lower-body injury. That kept him out of the lineup for more than a month before he returned to play sparingly in Detroit’s last two games.

The Russians, though, may opt to rest Datsyuk for the relatively meaningless game against Slovenia to give him more time to heal before Saturday’s showdown vs. the US.

Meanwhile, Alex Ovechkin arrived with a determination to lead Russia back to hockey dominance.

When asked what a hockey gold medal would mean to Russia, Ovechkin replied with a smile: ‘‘Mean gold only cost $50 billion, probably.’’

Training canceled

Organizers canceled the last training session for the women’s downhill because of mild temperatures and soft snow conditions. at Krasnaya Polyana

Tuesday’s session was due to be the fifth of the scheduled training runs before Wednesday’s gold-medal final.

The course took a beating during Monday’s super-combined race, which was won by Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch.


The temperature was well above the freezing level during the super-combined, resulting in deep ruts at the bottom of the Rosa Khutor course.

Julia Mancuso of the US is among the favorites for Wednesday’s downhill, along with defending overall World Cup champion Tina Maze of Slovenia and Lara Gut of Switzerland.