KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – For all the concerns riders had about the Olympic halfpipe here, it proved to be good enough in Tuesday's qualification.
Shaun White was the highest-scoring rider in his heat and overall at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, advancing him to the Olympic final later tonight. All four Americans advanced, either through to the final or to the semifinal.
"It's bumpy, but it's much better than practice," said Danny Davis, who finished third in the second qualification heat and moved on to the final.
"It's like Mt. Hood, we're used to it."
The top three riders from each of two heats moved on to the final tonight, while the fourth through ninth riders in each heat moved on to a 12-man semifinal. Half of those riders will make the final.
Taylor Gold and Greg Bretz each made it through to the semifinal, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. local time (10 a.m. EST).
"I was nervous actually," said Davis. "I don't really get that nervous for contests, but there was a lot of hype on this contest. My family's here. We're in Russia. Gotta make it count.
"I think I gotta step it up to beat Shaun. He'll have to step up his run as well, so it'll be an interesting final."
White scored a 95.75 on a first run that included a 22-foot method and back-to-back double corks. The two-time defending gold medalist used his second run for practice and did not score higher.
On his first run down the pipe, Davis scored a 92.00 to finish third behind White and Japan's Tako Hiraoka.
The riders competed Tuesday after concerns about the pipe that persisted since they started training on Saturday. On Monday night, several voice concerns about safety and the bumpiness in the flat bottom of the pipe.
"There's not a whole lot of control in there, it's kind of just hanging on for dear life," said Gold, whose second run scored 87.50 to place him fifth in the second heat. "I kinda just tried to stay low and be powerful.
"Not practicing your tricks at all and coming into an event it pretty precarious on its own, let alone in a bumpy pipe. I'm getting my legs under me with every run."
Bretz placed seventh in the first heat, scoring a 71.75 on a run that included a double cork.
The pipe seemed to ride better during the second heat after several riders fell from the first heat. Only 15-year-old Ayumu Hirano of Japan scored better than an 84 in the first heat – he qualified for the final with a score of 92.25 – while the top seven riders from the second heat topped 84.
"It's gonna be tricky, but it's going to really show the good actual snowboarder," said Great Britain's Dominic Harington, who did not advance out of the first qualification heat.
"If you're good at snowboarding, you should be able to get on your back foot and you should prepare for the bumps so you should know how to deal with it. It didn't work out for me, but that's how it goes."