Yes, he crashed attempting a new trick during all three of his runs in the Olympic finals.
But looking back, Bend’s Kent Callister was satisfied that he at least tried the daring maneuver: a backside double McTwist 1260.
Callister, 22, finished 10th in the men’s snowboard halfpipe at the Pyeongchang Winter Games, and he has no regrets.
“I was happy with how I rode,” Callister said back in Bend this week. “I didn’t land my run in the final, but I think I was just happy to be doing that run with the new trick in there.”
The backside double McTwist 1260 includes a forward-flipping 3½ rotations and was perfected by three-time Olympic champion Shaun White, who performed the maneuver in his gold-medal run in South Korea.
Callister has yet to land the elaborate trick in a competition.
After a ninth-place finish in the 2014 Sochi Games, Callister boasted his second straight top-10 Olympic performance. He said he was not even expecting to make the finals in Pyeongchang, and he did not attempt the double McTwist in his qualifying runs. But he performed just well enough to squeak into the 12-man final as the last rider in.
“I was just trying to focus on myself and my riding, and cancel everything out,” Callister said. “That’s when I usually do my best. So I did that and I was just happy with the two runs I landed. If I didn’t make the finals I don’t think it would have been a big deal, because I was just happy with how I was riding.”
Competing for Australia, Callister finished 12th in the two-run qualifying round with a score of 77 on his second run to just barely advance. He had to wait as several riders took their final qualifying runs after him, and he dropped a few places but nabbed the last spot much to his relief.
“It was very nerve-wracking,” Callister said. “I was just so excited after I landed that second run. I saw I was getting bumped down after a few riders. I was kind of nervous, but we watched it until the contest ended and luckily I made it in. I was pretty relieved after that. It was a bit stressful there for a second.”
Callister added that training leading up to the contest in Pyeongchang was stressful, but by the day of the competition, he said, he was able to “let it all go and let my riding speak for itself. Just be riding and not be worried about anyone else or anything.”
After crashing in the final, Callister watched as his Australian teammate Scotty James won the bronze medal and fellow Bend resident and U.S. rider Ben Ferguson claimed fourth place. (Two other Bend athletes competed in the 2018 Winter Games: alpine skiers Laurenne Ross and Tommy Ford.)
White won the gold in spectacular fashion on the final run of the halfpipe competition, executing back-to-back 1440s and, of course, the double McTwist that Callister is still polishing.
“It was pretty spectacular,” Callister said of the Olympic final. “It was a good performance from everyone. It was a really good contest. It was cool to watch it.”
A few days before the men’s halfpipe event, Callister attended the opening ceremonies, walking into the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium with his Aussie teammates. Because his father is Australian, Callister has dual citizenship, and he decided before the Sochi Games four years ago to compete for Australia. But Callister is a longtime Bend resident who grew up snowboarding with the Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation and rose through the amateur ranks.
Riding for Australia offered a clearer path to qualifying for the Olympics, as the U.S. men’s halfpipe snowboarding team is routinely stacked with some of the world’s best talent. (All four U.S. riders finished in the top eight in Pyeongchang.)
After the halfpipe competition, Callister traveled with his coach and his girlfriend about 80 miles west from the mountainous region of Pyeongchang to the capital city of Seoul, exploring the metropolis of some 10 million residents.
“It’s massive,” Callister said of Seoul. “We tried some Korean street food and ventured around and had a good time.”
Callister will be just 26 for the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, and he said he hopes to make it to the Chinese capital for his third Olympics while continuing to compete for Australia.
“I think I definitely will be looking to get back there,” Callister said. “I’ll keep snowboarding for as long as I can.”
Callister said he plans to take part in the halfpipe contest at the U.S. Open in Vail, Colorado, next Thursday through Saturday, for his final competitive event of the season. Then he will return home.
“I’m going to come back to Bend and ride at Bachelor,” Callister said, “and see where I go from there.”