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Friday, November 11, 2005
Updated: May 14, 11:54 AM ET
Spin to Win

EXPN.com

Fishhead

A maximum of four halfpipers from each sex will earn a ticket to Italy to rep the U.S. Olympic Snowboard Team, and the competition, and its execution, will be heavier this time around. If all goes well, 23-year-old Minnesota native and Breck resident Steve Fisher could become the Rocky Balboa of Torino—minus the swaggering gait and slumping jaw. With back-to-back second-place finishes at the U.S. Open in '04 and '05, Gold in '04's Winter X, on top of two World Cup wins last year, one could say he stands a chance—as long as those pesky multiple 1080s don't get in his way.

EXPN.com has it out with Fish.

Pressure's on—LDS-style

I got to forerun the halfpipe [at the '02 Olympics in Salt Lake]. They had 30,000 people watching. It was nuts. I'd never competed in front of a spectator crowd that big.

Which signoras will make it to the ravioli?

Elena Hight's got a backside 900. Hannah definitely has the drive and the means. She'd be the first girl to land a 10. She learned cab nines, and now she's got front nines, cab nines, all the sevens. The girls are getting crazy. But I'd say Gretchen Bleiler, Hannah Teter, and I'm really pulling for Elena. She's the underdog favorite. If she can get it together and not hit her head again, she has a very strong chance. That last position is a tossup between Kelly Clark, Lindsey Jacobellis and Tricia Byrnes.

Fishact

Which ragazzos will press the panini?

I have no idea. I can name 12-15 guys who could make it: myself, Shaun, Danny, Andy, Tommy, Keir, Luke, Abe and Elijah, Danny Davis, Mason—Luke Mitrani might even be in there.

What's separating the golden ticket from the plane ticket home?

Back to back 10s for sure, or two 10s in the run. 10, 7, 7, 10. I think that's where it's going—which sucks. It's hard. It's a lot of work doing all that rotation in the same run. I'm working hard on that cab 10. Everyone's doing it these days. Apparently straight 1080s aren't the cool thing anymore. I'm tired of the 1080. It's a lot of spinning, and it's really hard to make that trick look good. Backside nines and simpler tricks, like alley-oop fives and sevens are going to be huge this year. The backside five is my fave trick. It's so fun cause you can float it as big as possible, and you can make it look really good.

Is spinning taking the style out of halfpipe?

A little, but it's about progression. Last Olympics, it was only sevens—a nine was barely heard of, and the pipe was as good as it is now. At the '98 Olympics, people were doing fives and sevens and winning. But I think, for the most part, everyone's kinda kicked on the whole spinning thing. The crowd likes it, but we're pretty much over it. When the Olympics are over, I think there will less progression for a little while. We'll step back, cruise around, and have fun.

So the scene, post-Olympics, will be low key?

It will be a little more chill, but that depends. Some of the guys who didn't make the Olympics are going to throw down at the other contests, while the guys who made it are gonna be spun out, wanting to cruise and have fun. I guess we'll see.

Fishpod

Neck and neck by a nose

It's always been close between us and Finland, but now it's really close. I wouldn't say we got lucky on the last sweep, but it was borderline lucky. It was questionable.

The weight of the five rings

Usually, at the top of the pipe, everyone is messing around. But at the last Olympics, everyone was so serious. Gotta compete. Complete silence. Guys listening to music, not talking to anybody. Teter's meditating. It's scary almost.