Tuesday, January 8, 2002
By ESPN.com news services
Olympic competition dates:
Snowboarding was invented in the 1960s when Michigan's Sherman Poppen tied a pair of skis together for his daughters to play on and called it a snurfer. In the '70s, Jake Burton Carpenter moved to Vermont in the Stratton Mountain area and began selling boards. Today, it's one of the fastest growing winter sports.
There are two types of snowboarding: alpine and freestyle. Alpine most closely resembles skiing while freestyle includes moves similar to skateboarding.
In halfpipe, Tommy Czeschin heads a strong American team that will challenge World Cup champion Magnus Sterner of Sweden and Heikki Sorsa of Finland. Sterner and Iker Fernandez of Spain are 1-2 in World Cup standings.
Women: Olympic champion Gian Simmen and Fabienne Reuteler of Switzerland won halfpipe events in a pre-Olympic meet. Nicola Pederzolli of Austria leads the standings with 2,720 points, and is the only woman to win two events this season. Karine Ruby of France and American Shannon Dunn are other favorites.
Stine Brun Kjeldaas of Norway heads a wide open halfpipe competition after winning silvers at Nagano and 2001 world championships. Natasza Zurek of Canada and Americans Tricia Byrnes, Gretchen Bleiler and Kelly Clark Byrnes could challenge.
The finer points
There will be 35 men and 20 women competing in the halfpipe at Salt Lake City. After the first run, the top six men and top six women advance to the final run while the remaining athletes get another chance to qualify. Six more men and women advance from the second qualifier putting a total of 12 men and 12 women in the final.
The final has two runs with the best run counted. Five judges award up to 10 points for their area of expertise: standard technique, rotation, height, landing and technical merit. The competitor with the highest total of points wins.
Amplitude, or height, frequently makes the difference among competitors who are all proficient at executing tricks.
Although alpine races are held in slalom, giant slalom and super G, at the 2002 Olympics the event will be parallel giant slalom. Two riders compete on side-by-side courses at the same time. Each rider takes one run on each course during a round. The boarder with the fastest combined score in both runs advances.
At Salt Lake City in parallel giant slalom, there will be a qualifying run with 16 advancing, quarterfinals, semifinals and a final round.