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Tuesday, 12 February, 2002, 04:09 GMT

A good air day

BBC Sport Online's 'Awesome' Alex Gubbay reports from Park City on the Olympic snowboarding phenomenon.

It was a stunning combination of back-to-back McTwists and a spectacular Cab cork-720 that secured snowboarding gold for Ross Powers at Park City.

And that probably means as little to you as it does to me.

But as I was, you would have been in absolute awe of all the boarders at Park City, and the 'great air' they got as they came down the Olympic half-pipe.

They provided a tremendous afternoon's entertainment, an experience totally removed from more traditional events, but now every bit as integral a part of the winter Games.

It was made all the more thrilling by the first medals sweep ever in the competition.

Powers was joined by compatriots Danny Kaas and Jarret 'JJ' Thomas on the podium - and the 17,000-strong crowd partied accordingly to Bruce Springsteen's 'Born in the USA'.

With the Americans on top form, the atmosphere was quite literally awesome, dude.

And the big screens encouraging fans to 'make some noise' were entirely redundant.

Boarders chose tunes for their own runs, Nellie's 'Ride with Me' the most appropriate of today's favourites. Some of them even wore headphones to keep themselves pumped as they came down.

Top half-pipe tunes
1. Ride With Me - Nellie
2. All The Small Things - Blink 182
3. Music - Madonna
4. Night Fever - The Bee Gees
5. ABC - Jackson Five

And Finn Heikki Sorsa, who finished a disappointing seventh by his standards, at least stole the show in the fashion stakes with his stunning Mohican.

The action itself also more than lived up to the crowd's expectations.

Italian Giacomo Kratter and Japan's Takaharu Nakai bravely challenged the dominant Americans, and there were one or two boos when their fine second-run efforts weren't marked as highly as some had expected.

But the reception every boarder got for each manoeuvre and trick, be it a grab, spin or flip, was always special.

Even German Jan Michaelis, the only non-starter in the final because of injury, sailed down the middle of the pipe to thunderous applause.

The Swedish and Australian judges clearly appreciated it - and awarded him 0.1 points each.

Sadly, their French, American and Japanese counterparts didn't share the same sense of humour - so he only had a score of 0.2 to show for his efforts.

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