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Snowboarders lap up Olympic frenzy

American snowboarding's Generation X arrived at the Winter Olympics. Got outfitted and paraded before a packed media mob that included its own adoring press corps. And frankly, this was suddenly not your traditional Winter Olympic moment. Asked how he was handling all the attention halfpiper Todd Richards - one of the guys that does on funnel of snow what skateboarders do on their dry-land funnels of wood - responded: "I'm picturing you all naked."

Giant slalom specialist Adam Hostetter - third and last qualifier for the U.S. men who nailed down the Olympic spot just last weekend by snow surfing from 13th to third position in the multi-event U.S. rankings - had a special take on his arrival in the Games of Nagano."It's like someone said earlier today," the Hoss cracked. "Me coming is like a snowball in Hell."

The drooling snowboard press - who came on like public relations hacks by prefacing questions with proclamations like "You guys rule!" - actually managed to tick off some of the snowboarders at one point when asking if the most nontraditional of sports hadn't tarnished its soul just a bit by selling out to this first-time Olympic experience.

But the X'ers themselves, in typical fashion, scoffed at the hint of criticism.

"We all had a choice whether we wanted to be here or not," said Mike Jacoby, a gold-medal favorite in Sunday's giant slalom. "We chose to be here, so it's not like we're with our hands tied and being forced into the arena here."

And women's giant slalom competitor Rosey Fletcher chimed in on the same subject.

"People who say that we're taking away the soul of snowboarding," Fletcher said, rolling her eyes, "soul is something that's inside and its very personal. And something like the Olympics isn't going to take away your rad personal experiences with your friends or your family up there snowboarding in powder. I don't know what their soul is, but that's mine."

And then she said what was obviously by the raucous give and take of the day:

"Snowboarding is part of the younger generation. The Olympics aren't going to change that. But it'll definitely add some personality to the Olympics because you've got some crazy people up here." *****



The course

The course is laid out symmetrically to ensure equal oppurtunity to competitors who use either the regular stance (left foot forward) or goofy stance (right foot forward). Each gate is comprised of two poles of different lengths and a flag.

Course length - 936 m

Vertical drop - 290 m