Lighting the pipe

Aussie Torah Bright shakes it up and wins the ladies' halfpipe gold; editor finds new favourite winter sport to watch.

Lying sleepless on the couch at about four o'clock this morning, I flicked on the TV to see what Olympic coverage I could catch, thinking I'd just nod off to whatever was on. So much for that sleepy notion: The station was broadcasting the ladies' halfpipe finals---not a fall-asleep-while-watching kind of sport.

Torah Bright kickin' ass in the halfpipe.
Torah Bright kickin' ass in the halfpipe.

I jumped in just in time to see soon-to-be gold medalist Torah Bright's runs, full of tricks that could make your stomach flip faster than a roller coaster. Then there was US gold-medal hopeful Gretchen Bleiler's first run, which ended with one hell of a crash when she came down from a crazy high jump off the halfpipe (vocabulary help: does that have a technical name?). Bleiler looked pretty shaken, and her second run ended early with a less confident feel and lighter fall; she finished 11th. Rumour has it that she went to the hospital to get checked out, but there appears to be no news update on that front.

Couldn't find the footage of Bleiler's fall, but this commercial trip to the moon gets at how high she was flying.

Americans Hannah Teter and Kelly Clark slipped in for silver and bronze medals, respectively, making this the first year the US hasn't won gold in the ladies' halfpipe since the Nagano Games in 1998. Go, Australia!

The men's 20 km individual came on next, looking much less exciting than the halfpipe that saw 11 of the 22 runs end in crashes (yikes!). I saw them get ready, toting their guns, and then...


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