Night shift: Tom Copsey and (outta left field!) Andrew Duthie
The much anticipated/detested one-jump spinfest wrapped up freestyle snowboarding's time at the 2018 Olympics, with Canada's Sebastien Toutant taking the gold.
Hot on the heels of the historic women's Big Air finals, this morning it was the men's time to dial their send-ometers to 11 in the bid to crown the past couple of years of hoovering up FIS points with Olympic gold.
The qualification for the men's final had already showcased some apex-level kicker riding, but the question was, with the Alpensia kicker being decidedly medium by today's standards, would the riders be able to ratchet things up much more for their Olympic ender?
"With the Alpensia kicker being decidedly medium by today's standards, would the riders be able to ratchet things up much more for their Olympic ender?"
The relatively smaller size of the jump certainly played no small part in allowing the women to give the best account of themselves, but though most of the guys had been commenting on how well it had been riding it seemed that the much anticipated/feared Quad-off wouldn't be happening.
One thing was for sure, it was set up nicely with a mix of bonafide powerhouses and emerging talents making the cut. Plus there would always be the chance of Torgeir Bergrem unofficially winning the whole damned thing by showing his switch back 5 Method to the world once more.
Here's how it unfolded...
- Sebastien TOUTANT - 84.75 / 89.50 / JNS // 174.25
- Kyle MACK - 82.00 / 86.75 / JNS // 168.75
- Billy MORGAN - JNS / 82.50 / 85.50 // 157.50
- Chris CORNING - 74.25 / 78.75 / JNS // 153.00
- Redmond GERARD – 74.75 / JNS / 68.25 // 143.00
- Michael SCHAERER - JNS / 62.25 / 78.50 // 140.75
- Torgeir BERGREM – 88.50 / JNS / JNS // 88.50
- Jonas BOESIGER – 77.50 / JNS / 40.75 // 118.25
- Max PARROT – 85.00 / JNS / 32.75 // 117.75
- Mark MCMORRIS – 40.50 / JNS / 32.00 // 72.50
- Carlos GARCIA KNIGHT - JNS / JNS / 54.25 // 54.25
- Niklas MATTSSON – 36.00 / DNS / DNS // 36.00
Slopestyle champ Red Gerard kicked things off. Dropping in without his Team USA astro-jacket, he got a score on the board with a backside triple 1440 mute – something that was unlikely to ever be enough, given the field that would follow.
Britain’s Billy Morgan was the first to fall, coming unstuck on the landing of his backside 1440 triple. With only two out of three jumps counting, that meant no more room for mistakes. Michael Shaerer also bailed on his run, but Seb Toots kept his cool to put down the first 1620 of the day (a cab triple version, to be exact).
"McMorris Went all out With a switch backside 1620, clearly with gold on his mind, but couldn't hold on to the landing"
The bar had now been set, and with Chris Corning unable to unseat Seb, Tor Bergrem was the one to do it. The Norwegian stomped a backside 1620 mute, earning him an 88.50. Kyle Mack brought the tweaked japan to his backside 1440 triple cork, immediately nipping at Tor’s heels.
Then it was the turn of Mark McMorris, looking to improve on his bronze from slopestyle. He went all out with a switch backside 1620, clearly with gold on his mind, but couldn't hold on to the landing.
With the stakes this high, injuries were always likely, and it was a shame to see Niklas Mattsson drop out after a big crash in his first run. Switzerland’s Jonas Boesiger remained in contention with a backside triple 16, only to be upstaged by Max Parrot’s version of the same trick.
Sadly New Zealand’s Carlos Garcia Knight didn’t live up to the promise of his qualifying runs, slamming on his first attempt and leaving him with a lot to do in runs two and three.
By the end of run two, things were looking very different. The biggest shock was Mark McMorris falling yet again, ending any hopes of a Big Air medal. Tor Bergriem had lost his early lead after a botched cab triple 14, and Billy Morgan was back in contention after sticking his backside triple on the second attempt.
"Max Parrot looked to knock Seb off his perch with a cab 1800, but couldn’t put it down"
Kyle Mack was already the holder of our unofficial ‘Best Grab’ award after that japan, but he surpassed even that with a frontside 1440 Bloody Dracula. That was enough to bump him up into the silver medal position.
Sitting pretty in gold, however, was Seb Toots, who has stuck a massive backside 1620 to add to his cab 16. Max Parrot looked to knock him off his perch with a cab 1800, but couldn’t put it down. Likewise CGK exited the comp after falling on both of his first two runs.
And so we came to round three, and those still in contention now had a pretty good idea of what it would take to get into the medals.
Red Gerard played it relatively safe with a front 14, which despite a score of only 68.25 still had him in the higher end of the table. Billy Morgan soon knocked him down a place, though, thanks to a big frontside triple 14. It was enough for the bronze medal position, but with so many riders still to drop he couldn’t afford to get comfy.
The sight of Chris Corning psyching himself up for his final run led many to correctly assume that he was about to start the quad party. Sure enough he launched it, but (as many suspected) the jump wasn’t quite big enough and he hit the deck. With a couple more feet of airtime, he may well have stuck it.
Tor went down too, leaving the early leader to wonder what might have been. Kyle Mack also fell as he attempted to leapfrog Seb Toots (who also didn’t land his third run) into the top spot, and Mark McMorris laid on a crowd-pleasing method to sign off from Pyeonchang.
"With so many recent victories going the way of his countrymen Mark and Max, it must have felt good for Seb to finally be back on top"
After Jonas Boesinger went down, only Max Parrot could shake up the medals – the question was, would he stomp a safety trick that would probably be enough for at least a bronze, or take a second attempt at going full 1800-tard to snatch the gold from his fellow Canuck?
In the end he went for the latter, and despite stomping it consistently in practice, he couldn’t put it down on the day. With only an already out of contention Carlos still to drop, Seb, Kyle and Billy could finally breathe again.
With so many recent victories going the way of his countrymen Mark and Max, it must have felt good for Seb to finally be back on top. Kyle Mack more than deserved his medal for having easily the most unique tricks of the day, and Billy Morgan proved that age is just a number by doing what the younger riders couldn't.
That's a wrap for snowboarding at Pyeongchang 2018. There were plenty of ups and downs, and we don't expect the whole Olympic debate to quell any time soon, but the riders put on one hell of a show across the six freestyle events - and today's men's Big Air final was no exception.
Missing it already? You can recap the whole shebang right here.