The Olympic qualifiers always end up being an interesting affair; favorites flail, rookies rise up and some of the nuttiest shit happens. In the five Olympic snowboarding qualifier cycles we’ve endured, we’ve battled freakishly windy wind in New Jersey, survived a flu epidemic at Mt. Bachelor where nearly every single competitor barfed their way (or worse) down the pipe, we’ve had some shitty luck and some perfectly magical days but they’ve never, ever, ever canceled a qualifier, til now.
Last weekend in Breckenridge, CO, Mother Nature whipped up a heck of a storm, showering us with feet of snow day after day and hammering us with mind-melting 40 MPH gale force winds, deeming the pipe un-ridable and the jumps un-clearable and wreaking general havoc on our big Olympic plans.
The old adage “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger” might come to mind but I’m pretty sure what doesn’t kill this crew just makes them bitch harder, and rightfully so. This was indeed a shitty situation, one where no one actually won (except maybe the endemic shred media who spent most of the canceled contest days lapping Breck’s T-bar and Peak 6 #jealous). Riders were bummed because they couldn’t ride a standard event with qualifiers and finals, women’s slope riders were bummed because they internally all agreed to count the qualifier results as the final result but the FIS ruled against it. The event organizers were bummed because they hustled like hell to move the event from Northstar to Breck (due to the lack of snow in Tahoe) and managed to pull off a solid event in zero time only to be burdened with the snow they were wishing Northstar had had a month earlier. Mainstream media was bummed because now they really have absolutely no effing idea what the hell is going on and they still are clueless on how to dress for the cold and pretty much every event sponsor was like….uhmmm where is that TV show you promised us?Kaitlyn Farrington – frontside air in the contest that never happened.
One could say this experience creates mettle and all that tough and grit shit, and maybe it does or maybe it’s just that we’ve chosen to put our trust and our sport in the hands of such a fickle beaotch like Mother Nature and this is the price we pay, or maybe it’s some sort of doomed week in January voodoo spell that the Olympic gods bestow upon us to challenge us, saying, “How badly do you really want this whole Olympic thing?”.
But now we’re in Mammoth and the Olympic gods (and that warm California sun) seem to be smiling down upon us with a string of a perfect days ahead in the best pipe and slopestyle course (thank you Mammoth) of the season. Now the top 30 US riders have just gotta land some of the best runs of their life in back-to-back-to-back qualifiers and we can get this whole Sochi thing on the road.