Results of Ladies’ Halfpipe finals may depend on more than just their rides

By Hayli Goode
BSU at the Games

Two Americans and one Canadian ascended the podium at today’s Ladies’ Halfpipe final competition. America’s most decorated female snowboarder, Kelly Clark, took bronze with a 90.75. Canadian Torah Bright took silver with a 91.50 and, in her first Olympic Games, American Kaitlyn Farrington took the gold with a 91.75.

American Arielle Gold pulled out of the Games at the last minute. In the practice round before the qualifying event, Gold hurt her shoulder falling on the pipe.

Farrington started her snow-career on skis in her hometown of Sun Valley, Idaho, at 3 years old. Her dad would push her around on a tether on their horse ranch.

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“I’ve heard stories from her coach that she’s the first one on the pipe in the morning and the last to leave. I’ve been in the Center of Excellence in Park City, Utah, which is the US training center, and I had the Nordic coach say, ‘I want to tell you, sometimes the snowboarders don’t quite fit into the Olympics. They don’t have to work as hard, but your daughter is in here every single day training,’” Gary, Farrington’s father, said. “So, very proud of her. We knew she was a fighter. That’s why her mantra is cowgirl up…she knew she had to fight for this position.”

Unlike Farrington, Clark’s family was not in Sochi to watch her win the bronze medal, but she was not alone.

Michelle Alderson, Kelly’s former personal assistant, and Alderson’s daughter, Elise Hawkins, plus Kim and Skyler Walker from Clark’s favorite band, Jesus Culture, and their 4-month-old son were standing in as Clark’s family. After each run, however, Alderson said Clark called her parents in Vermont.

“This is Kelly’s fourth Olympics—she has won the gold in 2002 and then she had the bronze. Her mom and dad have been to every single one of her Olympics, but it’s really hard traveling over here. So they’re enjoying it and still watching her,” Alderson said.

Alderson says Clark wished her parents could have been there but was happy she was still surrounded by people who cared for her, loved her and were praying for her.

Some of those prayers may have gone to Kelly’s safety. A report from The Washington Post stated snowboarders from all countries thought the halfpipe was “substandard.”

Helen Magiros said her daughter, Australian snowboarder Steph Magiros, was not worried about the halfpipe, but said it looked uneven at the men’s finals yesterday.

“Steph has been riding on soft snow in Australia, so she’s used to this. But I’ll tell you, at the men’s finals, that whole right side just looked off. There was almost no vertical,” Helen said.

In the qualifying round, semifinal round and final round, more boarders fell on the pipe than those who successfully completed their routines, including Clark. But that didn’t deter boarders, including Magiros, from going after the paramount prize.

“Once she got into semi, she was like, ‘I’m going to throw as hard as I can and do the run that I want to do. And if it goes, it goes. And if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.’ She’s just over the moon for how far she came,” said Harry Magiros, Steph’s dad.

Magiros did not make it past semifinals, but said she was pleased with her run.

The three Chinese snowboarders who made it to finals, Jiayu Liu, Xuetong Cai and Shuang Li, were predicted to take out the top two athletes, but all three fell on both of their final runs.

“Oh my God, this is actually really amazing. It’s my third Olympics, and in London 2012, I saw the U.S. win the basketball women’s gold medal. But this too—it’s unreal. And the crowd just all came together, and it was amazing,” said Nadiya Argan, a Winter Olympics spectator from Dallas, Texas.

Instead of giving the bronze, silver and gold medals at the event, the ladies received flowers and will receive their medals at the ceremony in the Olympic Park in Sochi the same evening as the event is broadcast in the U.S.

BSU at the Games is a freelance news agency operated by 41 student journalists reporting from the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games through an immersive-learning program at Ball State University.

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