The snowboarding halfpipe event was added to the Olympic programmeme in 1998. Gian Simmen, a 20-year-old from Arosa, Switzerland, was not one of the favourites.
A new discipline
The competition began with a qualifying round. The top six snowboarders advanced directly to the final. The rest of the entrants took part in a second qualifying round. The top six in that round also went on to the final. In the opening round, Simmen finished only 21st.
The run of his life
He scraped through to the final by placing third in the second qualifying round. Once in the final, however, Simmen performed like a champion. Competing in a downpour, he put together two solid runs and earned a clear victory. "I can't believe it," he said. "I've never ridden like this before. Maybe only in my dreams." He also participated at the Games in 2002 and 2006.