For the Love of the Games Part III

19 02 2010

Watching the highlights of the men’s Snowboard Halfpipe last night, and all eyes were fixed on young Australian athlete Scott James.  At just 15 years of age, James is the second youngest competitor at this year’s Winter Olympics and the youngest male Winter Olympian in 50 years (I also hear he’s the youngest EVER competitor in the men’s snowboard halfpipe event). 

This might be his first Winter Olympic Games, but James is no stranger to international competition.  He ‘cut his teeth’ as a 14-year-old at the 2008 Europa Cup in Switzerland.  By luck and good fortune, James secured his spot in the Australian Olympic team just two weeks before the Games commenced.  Teammate Nate Johnstone, the No. 1 snowboarder, was unfortunately ruled out with an ankle injury and James snared 15th place (his best performance to date) at the World Cup in Canada to get his ticket to the Games. 

Baby-faced though he may be, James is proving to be a hit with crowds, fellow competitors, and the media for a maturity beyond his years.  His future looks bright!

It was a baptism by fire for James, who fractured his right wrist in training just two days before the halfpipe event and was forced to compete with a cast, but he took it in his stride.  In an interview with The Australian, he admitted he held back with his performance and failed to do the must-do manoeuvre  for medal contenders (a double cork, in case you were wondering) just to get a score on the board after crashing out on his first run.  The boy can board though.  His combination of double and triple spins earned him 12th place in his group and put him just outside of qualifying for the semi-finals, finishing 21st overall.

An impressive result, and things can only get better.

The title of the ‘Youngest Competitor’ at this Winter Olympics goes to fellow Australian, Britteny Cox.  Also 15 years of age, Cox took part in the ladies Moguls a few days ago.  She started 19th in a field of 27 vying to qualify for the finals in the event.  Her jumps (a 360 and Back Puck/Pike with Position) scored her a 19.87 putting her in 23rd position at the end of the round, and a mere three places outside of qualifying for the finals.

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