Eagle’s Jake Pates makes finals of Olympic halfpipe competition
BONGPYEONG, South Korea — Eagle snowboarder Jake Pates qualified into the halfpipe finals Tuesday, delivering a big second run when he needed it.
“I was super happy to just land to clean one,” Pates said. “Pretty nerve-racking not getting the first one down. You only get two. You’ve got to land that last one.”
Pates said he took a moment after the first run to clear his head, put in his headphones and tune out all the distractions.
“I was definitely stressed going into the second run,” he said. “I did a little bit of meditation at the top, put some good tunes in and got myself hyped up again.”
The 19-year-old Ski and Snowboard Club Vail alumnus will now compete in Wednesday’s final — along with the other three Americans, Shaun White, Ben Ferguson and Chase Josey.
White recorded the top score of the first run of qualifying with a score of 93.25.
“Honestly, oddly enough I was a little nervous,” White said. “There’s such a build up to get to the Olympics, people forget you still have to qualify to get to the final.”
He topped that on his second run with a near-perfect 98.50.
“I started seeing everybody put in these great runs and I figured I would just kind of step it up,” he said. “They motivated me to send it on that last one.”
Minturn resident and Vail Mountain School graduate Rakai Tait, who is competing for New Zealand, his father’s home country, failed to qualify for Wednesday’s final, ending 26th. He put together a solid first run, but was unable to land his final trick. He was riding a board from his sponsor, Minturn-based Weston Snowboards.
He’ll watch Wednesday’s final and the rest of the Games, staying until the Closing Ceremonies.
“It’s been amazing,” 19-year-old Tait said of the Olympic experience. “Just the honor of representing New Zealand has been incredible and just all the support from all different communities that I’m a part of, it’s been awesome and unbelievable.”