Halfpipe

Shaun White has halfpipe, slopestyle training course built in Australia (photos)

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Remember the private halfpipe Red Bull built for Shaun White in Colorado before the Vancouver Olympics?

Well, White has a new personal playground. This time, it’s in Australia, courtesy of another one of his sponsors, GoPro, and Snow Park Technologies.

“GoPro worked with Snow Park Technologies to build a custom halfpipe and slopestyle features for Shaun’s Olympic training,” a GoPro media relations manager said in an email. “GoPro and SPT scouted many locations across the globe, the spot in Australia was chosen based upon conditions and timing.”

White was at the Perisher site training Tuesday, GoPro said.

Talk circulated the last couple weeks with photos surfacing with a watermark of the website, snowflakegallery.com.au.

On Monday, news.com.au posted an article linking the training ground to “exclusive use” by the two-time Olympic halfpipe champion.

Here’s what we know. Someone has built a really, really massive halfpipe in a steep part of Perisher which can’t be seen from the base of the resort.

It has taken dozens of machines to push around the remnants of the winter snowpack to build this thing in the October heat. A state-of-the-art pipe-cutter, rumoured to be worth a quarter of a million dollars, is also hard at work. It’s all terribly mysterious.

White’s band, Bad Things, has its debut album set to come out Oct. 29. He said he’s going back on tour with the band before the Olympics, but the only upcoming date on its website is Nov. 2 at the Voodoo Festival in New Orleans.

White is slated for his busiest Olympics yet with the addition of slopestyle snowboarding to the program. He’s not the favorite to win gold in that event, so it’s good that this site has a slopestyle layout, too.

Australia is home to the reigning Olympic women’s halfpipe champion, Torah Bright, and the 2011 world champion in men’s halfpipe, Nathan Johnstone.

“I’d like to ask Shaun if we can come ride it when he’s finished,” Johnstone told news.com.au with a laugh.

U.S. Olympic hopeful out at least 6 months after breaking neck in snowboard crash

Chinese figure skating judges banned for biased Olympic scoring

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Two Chinese figure skating judges were suspended by the International Skating Union for biased judging at the PyeongChang Olympics.

Chen Weiguang and Huang Feng had “preferential marking” for top Chinese skaters Jin Boyang (fourth place in PyeongChang) and the silver medalist pairs’ team of Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, respectively, according to the ISU.

Chen was banned two years and excluded from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Huang got a one-year ban.

Chen awarded her highest grades of execution scores of the men’s competition to Jin, as well as her second-highest program components scores, trailing only gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu. Both sets of scores, in both the short and long programs, were out of line with the other eight judges.

“There is evidence of preference for the Chinese skater and prejudice against his strongest competitors,” an ISU report read. “Her marks were completely unrealistic.”

The pairs’ judge Huang “obviously favored his pair also vis-à-vis the other top candidates for the Olympic gold medal,” the ISU said in a report, referencing inflated scores for Sui and Han and lower scores for gold and bronze medalists Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada.

Huang was warned one month before the Olympics by the ISU for biased judging at the December 2017 Grand Prix Final pairs’ event.

Both suspensions are subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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Javier Fernandez to skip Grand Prix, still compete next season

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Javier Fernandez, who in PyeongChang became the first Spanish Olympic figure skating medalist, will skip the fall Grand Prix series but return for January’s European Championships, which could be his final competition.

Europeans will be Fernandez’s focus for the season, his agent said Tuesday.

Fernandez, 26, added an Olympic bronze medal to his 2015 and 2016 World titles. He has said that his third Olympics in PyeongChang would be his last. But Fernandez did not say he would retire after the Winter Games, though he did skip the world championships in March.

Fernandez now plans to compete in his 13th straight European Championships in Minsk in January. He won the last six titles. It’s unknown if he will continue on to the world championships in Saitama, Japan, in March.

In Fernandez’s absence, the top male singles skaters in the fall Grand Prix season should be double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, PyeongChang silver medalist Shoma Uno and American Nathan Chen, who was fifth at the Olympics after a disastrous short program but ran away with March’s world title by the largest margin in history.

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