Kotsenburg, winning the first ever Gold medal for Slopestyle Snowboarding | P: Getty Images/NBC
Slopestyle Snowboarding has finally been properly introduced to the world stage, and it could not have made a better first impression. Proving that style does ultimate trump technicality, Sage Kotsenburg has won the first ever Olympic Slopestyle Gold medal, also the first medal to be awarded at the 2014 Games.
Snowboarding couldn’t have asked for a better outcome, as Sage has proved himself an outspoken and honest advocate for riding and all the issues it has faced in the recent past; Kotsenburg defies the robotic gymnastics that many see as coming to define competition snowboarding, bringing the focus back to creativity and having a damn good time.
Also see: Top Shots from Sochi 2014: the Olympics through the riders’ eyes |Sage Kotsenburg takes home Slopestyle Gold at Sochi 2014 Olympics, Sandbech & McMorris stomp Silver, Bronze | My Dream: Slopestyle makes its Olympic debut | A coach’s perspective on the Olympic Games: an interview with Ricky Bowers | The Olympic Issue: Terje Haakonsen Interview | Olympic Pipe, You’ve Changed | Jamie Anderson wins Slope Gold in Sochi, Enni Rukajarvi & Jenny Jones take Silver, Bronze
In classic “Second-Run Sage” style, Kotsenburg didn’t make it through the initial qualifier contest, thus relegated to Saturday morning’s semifinals along with McMorris and a host of other top riders. Kotsenburg came to play on Saturday, however, securing himself a spot in finals after finishing in the top 4 during semis, before stepping up and putting down his winning run, a cab 270 to switch, half-cab on back 540 off flat down, half-cab layback slide off the cannon back 180 out, cab double cork 1260 holy crail, frontside 1080 off the toes rocket air and backside 1620 Japan.
Sandbech, who qualified first in his heat for finals, kept his momentum going and finished Saturday’s finals with a Silver medal in hand. McMorris, who also missed out on qualifying straight into finals, mimicked Kotsenburg’s performance, earning a spot in finals and then living up to the Olympic hype that has surrounded him for months by snapping up the third spot on the podium.
Though many are questioning the methods of those sitting on the judging panel, citing that riders like Maxence Parrot and Seppe Smits got smacked with much lower scores than their runs deserved, there is no doubt that slopestyle’s global debut was a great one, and having riders like Kotsenburg, Sandbech and McMorris become the face of riding to those who are unacquainted, is a positive thing for snowboarding as a whole.