Wild road to Sochi: Kaitlyn Farrington's Olympic debut ends in gold
Farrington’s road to Sochi was a lot different than most, and if it wasn’t for her humble roots it is hard to imagine she would have had the same result.
“I just can’t believe this was my first Olympics,” said Farrington, with her nation’s flag wrapped around her shoulders. “I was hoping to just make finals.”
Farrington found her way to the Olympics as a part of Team USA. When she was just 17, she began to travel with the U.S. Snowboarding team, but not without sacrifice and family support.
Farrington and her father would take a trip every Wednesday to the local cattle sale, sell a cow and in turn would have weekend travel money for the ambitious young rider. After all, paying for the travels and maintaining a training regimen with coaches can get pricey, but with the support of her family, she has found a way — a way to an Olympic gold medal.
However, Farrington had to fight to get that medal when the big day at the Olympics finally came, riding in all three rounds of competition despite putting down a run in the qualifier that should have allowed her a direct pass to the final.
“She totally should have been in third! Her run was so much better than [Xuetong Cai’s] run,” expressed teammate Hannah Teter, the 2006 gold medalist who did advance straight to the final. I’m sure she’ll qualify first in the semifinal.”
That she did. Farrington took to the semifinal without despair and found herself quite pleased in the end with the route she took.
“I did a different run in qualifiers, semifinal and the final. The semifinal was practice for me and I’m actually stoked I was in semis because it was a good practice.”
Embedded owg_slideshow: Through the lens: Kaitlyn Farrington wins Olympic gold in women's halfpipe
Practice was something the most riders were lacking when it came to the halfpipe.
As most are aware now, there were many concerns and complaints with the state of the halfpipe from the riders before, during and after each of the training sessions. Many riders were leery before they even arrived in Sochi, knowing that the build crew was not the renown Snow Park Technologies, the crew responsible for building and shaping the halfpipe at every major event they compete in. The subpar pipe resulted in very little time to practice.
After Kelly Clark, 2002 gold medalist with more halfpipe wins than any other rider by a considerable margin, finished in third for the second consecutive Olympic showing, she spoke to the lack of preparation time to fine-tune her ability to land her run.
“It wasn’t my cleanest run. But, after my practice I am so happy to put down that run. It wasn’t the best run I’ve ever landed but for me, in this pipe, it that was the best I could do tonight,” said the always-dignified Clark.
The other member on the podium was the defending gold medalist from the 2010 Vancouver Games, Torah Bright. Bright, like Clark and Teter, made her way directly into the final following her qualification runs.
It seemed as though the odds were not in Farrington’s favor from the average perspective, but that seems to be what to works best for her.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Model Olympian: Kaitlyn Farrington
During the U.S. selection events, Farrington did not find the podium in any of the first four, making her an unlikely candidate to make the team. Then at the fifth and final event, she finished on top of the podium, making her impossible to ignore, as timing is everything and she was getting hot at the right time. Farrington followed that result up with a podium the following week at X Games.
Yes, Farrington’s road to Sochi was far from ordinary, beginning with some struggle but ending in complete success. However this has been the general story of her entire career on a snowboard.
Farrington has been known to reference her first snowboarding experience as traumatizing due to kids laughing at her from the chairlift. Guess who’s laughing now, from the top of the podium.
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