Stoked dudes a breed apart

By Deborah Charles

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - The baggy uniforms that look like blue jeans, laid-back attitude and blaring music say it all -- snowboarding is not a traditional Olympic sport.

As American Kelly Clark stood at the top of the halfpipe for her last run in the women's final on Thursday night she sang out loud to the tune on her iPod.

After belting out a few bars she picked up her iPod and picked a song, tucked it back in her uniform and sang a bit more before sliding into the halfpipe for a bronze medal run.

Gold medalist Shaun White does not even bother with the earphones. He has his iPhone on speaker mode in his pocket, turning himself into a twisting, tumbling music box.

"It just really kicks things off," White said on Friday. "I can be at the top of the halfpipe and hear a song and it can put me in a mood."

"What a motivator, to get you pumped up," he said.

Most of the snowboarders had their own music piped into their ears during their runs but they can also pick the song playing as they career down the course.

Groups and artists as diverse as Led Zeppelin, 50 Cent, AC/DC, Miley Cyrus and the Black Eyed Peas were chosen by the athletes, while the disc jockeys picked other tunes in between the competition to help get the crowd revved up.

"Come on folks, this isn't the Last Supper," the announcer said at the women's snowboard finals. "Let's make some noise!"


The snowboarders said they thrive on the noise and manage to throw harder tricks and soar higher in the air when they hear thousands of people in the stands cheering them on.

They also have a relatively laid-back attitude -- or at least say they do. If a team mate falls and are clearly not injured the other riders laugh about it with their fallen colleague.

Torah Bright, the Australian who had a dismal first run in the final of the women's halfpipe, said she just shook it off and refocused for the second run which earned her a gold.

"It's not the end of the world that I fell. It happens. So I just kind of put it behind me," she said. "I knew what I was going to do, I've done it all before so I just had to go and have some fun with it."

Even when they win they have a casual attitude.

"I'm stoked. I'm a pretty mellow dude but I'm burning up inside," said Mike Robertson, silver medalist from Canada in the men's snowboard cross, who did not appear too excited.

Their clothes are different too, the baggy trousers a far cry from the skin-tight suits worn by most other winter athletes.

The U.S. team has made waves with their snowboard uniforms of a large red, white and blue plaid shirt and snowboard pants designed to look like distressed blue jeans.

Others, like Japanese snowboarder Ryo Aono, wore their trousers so loose they looked like they might fall off as he flew and twisted down the halfpipe on Wednesday.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)