Sunday 13 July 2014

Ireland's Seamus O'Connor qualifies for snowboard half pipe semi final in Sochi

Phil Medlicott

Published 11/02/2014|12:00

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SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 11:  Seamus O'Connor of Ireland competes in the Snowboard Men's Halfpipe Qualification Heats on day four of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 11, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Seamus O'Connor of Ireland competes in the Snowboard Men's Halfpipe Qualification Heats on day four of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

Ireland's Seamus O'Connor secured a spot in the semi-finals of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics men's snowboard halfpipe competition on Tuesday, but British duo Ben Kilner and Dom Harington failed to make the grade.

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O'Connor was awarded a score of 66.25 for his first run of the heat, placing him eighth in the rankings when the rest of the field had completed theirs.

And with his next effort, the 16-year-old did even better, earning a mark of 71.50 that was the fourth best-scoring second run of any rider.

He came eighth overall, with fourth to ninth qualifying for the semis which take place at 3pm today Irish time.

Kilner, meanwhile, was down in 16th at the end of the heat having posted scores of 43.50 and then just 16.25.

And the numbers were worse still for Harington, who finished bottom of all 20 riders having scored 12.75 first time out and then 37.25.

The impact upon it of the warm weather has been a prominent topic of conversation of late.

It emerged that officials preparing the halfpipe had called in help from the alpine skiing team on Tuesday morning to improve conditions following criticism from some of the top riders after training on Sunday and Monday.

And Harington said: "It is a little bit bumpy because it is warm. You will probably see a lot of falls today but we're used to it; we always fall."

Kilner, who hit the deck during his second run, said of the conditions: "They are far better than they were in training but our edges are still sinking into the wall.

"We just have to go big and just make sure we don't fall but the higher you go, the more likely you are to make an error."

Despite getting through, O'Connor said his preparation had been less than ideal.

"My body is not feeling so good," he said.

"I'm tired and sore from the slopestyle, and I fell a few times last night and banged my hand, which is not so good because it's the hand I grab with.

"I will have a chat with my coach and maybe bring out some of my bigger tricks (in the semi-final). My run will be dictated by the conditions."

On the state of the halfpipe, he added: "The conditions are different today but the snow is soft and sugary. The pipe is better than it was."

The top three from the heat --Japan's Ayumu Hirano in first, and Swiss pair Christian Haller and David Habluetzel in second and third respectively - advanced straight to the final.

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