05/03/2014 | by Sam Oetiker
History was written this morning with the first ever Olympic slopestyle event kicking off the Sochi 2014 madness under blue skies and perfect conditions.
Despite some initial confusion on the exact number of snowboarders who would be qualifying straight through to finals, it eventually became clear that the top 4 riders from each of the two heats would advance straight to the finals, with the rest of the riders being left to battle it out for remaining spots in Saturday’s semi finals.
Both heats were intense, with a huge variety of tricks being hucked by riders left, right and centre by the riders. If there’s one thing that emerged as a general theme throughout the contest, it was that the judging was rather unpredictable, with bigger flatspins seemingly being rewarded higher than their double corked counterparts.
Stale Sandbech bossed his second run for team Norway, putting down a cab 1260, frontside 1080 and flat spun backside 1440 like it was no big thing. The judges clearly recognised and rewarded the technicality and amplitude of his tricks.
Peetu Piiroinen went massive as always, whipping out a ferocious combination of flatspun tricks sent DEEP into the landing. Seb Toots also showed that he means business and pulled it out of the bag in run two to qualify third in his heat. Jamie Nicholls from the UK rounded out the riders going straight to finals from heat one with a run that included a rather unexpected cab 1440.
Billy Morgan landed the first triple cork of the Olympics in his second run and it was surprising to see that he wasn’t rewarded all that highly for it – to be fair he didn’t go quite as big as some of his peers.
The second heat was by far the stronger of the two with a whopping six riders posting scores over 90 (versus only 2 in heat one). Canadian Max Parrot put down a ridiculously sick second run featuring a technical rail section, two picture perfect doubles and a massive triple cork. He scored a massive 97 and was untouchable for the rest of the heat. The remaining three straight-to-finals spots went to the ever-reliable scandis (plus the Finns, because apparently, Finland isn’t in Scandinavia), with Roope Tonteri, Sven Thorgren and Gjermund Braaten all making the cut. All three hucked super-tech flatspins that had us scratching our heads and pulling out our calculators and all went DEEP on the course.
Mark McMorris had a bit of a wobble on his first run and despite chucking a perfect backside triple on the final hit – a trick that had the X Games judges literally spasming with excitement last month, just don’t seem to be being rewarded by the judges. Another firm highlight was Sage Kotsenburg, who tackled the course with his infectious breed of stylish tricks that stood out from your stock mute-grabbed whirleybirds. Sage managed 8th in his heat and we’re hoping he’ll boss it in the semi finals on Saturday.
Here are the full results from heat 1:
And here are the results for heat 2:
So the riders that Max Parrot, Roope Tonteri, Stale Sandbech, Sven Thorgren, Gjermund Braaten, Peetu Piiroinen, Sebastien Toutant and Jamie Nicholls all qualify and go straight through to Saturday’s finals.
The remaining riders will ride semi finals again on Saturday morning in a bid to earn a place in the final. Don’t forget to tune into our live blog!