DeLaO Steals the Show

By Jennifer Herbold

Fans flocked to Bolgen to see the first ever halfpipe event at the Deaf World Games. Although it was only a demonstration sport, the excitement was real. The event started with the qualifying rounds which determined the sequence of competitors during the finals. Those who did the best during the qualifying had the honor of going last during the finals. Each boarder had two runs and the scores were added. In the finals, each border also had two runs, but the best score was selected.

Due to the warm weather, the halfpipe was not as hard as most boarders would prefer, but provided a nice cushion for those who fell, and there were quite a few. All competitors were judged based on four specific qualities; motion (moving from one end of the pipe to another), rotation (e.g. helicopters, flips, 360° turns), height (how high the boarders went over each side), and landings. There was one judge assigned to each criterion.

The only female participants were from the USA team which elicted disappointment from the competitors. "I see my team members every day and know how we perform, it would be nice not to know what we were up against" comments second place winner Marina Lavelle (USA). Their coach decided to have all of the team members participate in all the Slalom and Halfpipe events. Raychelle Harris (USA) states "I did pretty well this week so I did not mind doing both, but in the future, it would be better to focus each of our energies on a specialty." None of the women could do any rotations, and each scored rather low. It was clear that although they need more training, they were in it for the fun. Raychelle Harris (USA) did the cleanest performance and scored a 12,9 (out of a possible 40) winning first place.

The male participants hailed from five different countries, USA, Finland, Switzerland, Norway, and Australia. The qualifying round allowed everyone to see clearly who would win first place. Before commencing the second run of the finals, Darrick DeLaO stood at the top, looked down at the audience and whooped with his hands and the audience followed. He glided down the pipe, doing McSpins (a 360° rotation with a flip), front and back grips of the board while turning, high jumps and 180° turns both backwards and forwards, ending up with the best score of 28,8. When asked how he felt about his performance, he had but one word to say, "stoked." He feels good he is finished, but looks forward to coming back and giving the fans something to rave about four years from now.

What happens to snowboarding now? It is a question that will remain unanswered until more research is done. The International Skiing Federation (FIS) recognizes snowboarding as a sport under IST category, while the International Snowboarding Federation (ISF) claims that snowboarding is a sport that stands alone. The CISS needs to find out which federation is officiates during international snowboarding events and is recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). If the IOC uses FIS for snowboarding events, then it automatically becomes a part of CISS under Alpine Skiing. If the IOC recognizes ISF, then six countries would need to have snowboarding as an official sport, and five would need to participate in the Games. It is clear that snowboarding is a popular spectator sport as well as a fast growing sport among the younger population. This writer hopes to see snowboarding as an official sports in the Winter Games of 2003.