Former Olympian Todd Richards perhaps said it best on Twitter today with: "This is one of the best days for snowboarding ever."
Sage Kotsenburg from the United States of America, perhaps against all odds, has won the first ever Olympic gold medal for slopestyle. Stale Sandbech from Norway and Canadian Mark McMorris took the silver and bronze medals respectively.
It was another picture-perfect day out on the slopestyle course this morning with bright blue skies and sunshine illuminating a much-discussed, but otherwise perfect Olympic slopestyle course.
Earlier this morning, semi finals exploded onto our computer monitors, with the 21 riders left over from the qualification stages battling it out for one of four spots in the finals (you can read what went down here). Of those 21 riders, Billy Morgan, Sage Kotsenburg, Mark McMorris and Yuki Kadono joined the 8 riders from qualifications in today's finals.
Yuki was the first rider to drop in the finals and the riders were looking fired up from the get-go, with many sending it so big on the course that they actually struggled to ride away from a clean run top to bottom.
Sage Kotsenburg was the third rider to drop and stomped a ridiculously sick run: cab 270 to fakie, half cab 540 out on on the second rail, half cab double hand-drag back 1 out on the third, massive cab 12 double holy crail (a Japan plus Crail double grab combo that Sage pioneered), frontside 1080 rocket air and backside 1620 japan. It was perfectly executed, he sent it deep on the landings and most importantly, it oozed more style than Daniel Craig in that Casino Royal poker scene. Those grabs are insanely difficult to get to when spinning 360s, let alone over 1080s, and in our eyes at least, were a very welcome change to the robotic mute grabs that seem to plague many of the other top riders these days. It earned him a whopping 93.5 from the judges.
Riders continued to drop with many trying, but failing, to get a landed first run on the scoreboard.
Jamie Nicholls put down a sick first run that included a cab 1440, switch back 9 and back triple 1440 but couldn't top Sage's score. Sven Thorgren followed up with a massive run that included cab 12, front 10 and flatspun back 14, but while the judges had been loving the flatspins in the qualis, Sven only received an 83 - way off the mark from Sage's run. This was the start of some rather unsual and inconsistent scoring from the judges - more on this here.
Rider after rider followed but nobody could better Sage's score. Mark McMorris had a flawless second run with two triple corks, which the judges only deemed good enough for third place and Stale Sandbech, who arguably rode away from one of the most technical and varied and consistent runs of the day with both flatspun frontside and backside triple 1440s, could only make it into second.
As the top qualifier, Max Parrot took the final run of the day and stomped an absolute beast. His rails were tech and clean and he went on to spin through cab 12 dub, front dub 10 and a massive back triple 16. But once again, the judges did not deem it good enough to better Sage's first run score (or even break the top 3 for that matter!).
But while the judging was definitely a little hard to follow, let's not take away from the fact that Sage Kotsenburg put down an amazing run. This is the slopestyle run that the world will be watching on repeat for the next four years and when you think of it that way, there really wasn't a better one in the whole contest to illustrate what snowboarding is all about: being creative, making tricks look stylish and having fun along the way.
WOW!! I just won the Olympics!! Bringing back the first Gold here to the USA! Love seeing all the support from everyone YOU RULE!!
— sage kotsenburg (@sagekotsenburg) February 8, 2014
We're so stoked for Sage and the fact that his run here today will go down in history and inspire countless youngsters getting into snowboarding.
And while the judges threw us a bit of a curveball with their scoring, there's no denying that they just did snowboarding a massive favour by rewarding Sage so highly for his run.