Sage Kotsenburg Wins Olympic Slopestyle Gold at Sochi 2014

History was made today. Sage Kotsenburg got slopestyle snowboarding's first Olympic gold medal with a hammer run that included a Cab double cork 1260 Holy Crail.
Sage at the top of the course with coach Bill Enos.
Sage, mid Half-Cab 50-50 backside 540 out.
Sage getting his Cab double cork Holy Crail, sahn. This is what style looks like in contest snowboarding.
Sage, frontside 1080 rocket air. He probably feels like he's on another planet anyway after today.
Sage has one of the best attitudes in contest snowboarding. Who better to tell the world what snowboarding's about?
Norway's Stale Sandbech learned from Mark McMorris's run that triple corks weren't scoring very high today so he dropped this Cab 1260 on his first hit instead.
Stale still did one triple though and got himself a silver medal.
Stale Sandbech, perfect landing.
McMorris and Stale. Pure stoke.
Canada's Mark McMorris saluting his friends before taking his first run. He didn't get the gold he had been working so long for but did walk away with a bronze.
Mark put down the best run of his life today with his Cab triple underflip and backside triple cork. The fact that he didn't wind is sure to stir up some shit.
Mark going deep into the landing on a frontside double cork 1080.
Mark first brought the backside triple cork to contest snowboarding and forever changed the game.
Mark, still hyped on bronze. This only the beginning of long career for him anyway.
Sweden's Sven Thorgren picked up fourth with tricks like this backside 270, 270 out.
Sven bringing around a frontside 1080.
After watching McMorris's runs Canada's Max Parrot also changed his strategy up and traded the triple cork that he could have done on his first hit for a Cab 1260.
Max was the only rider to stomp a backside triple cork 1620 today but it was only good enough for fifth.
There were two Brits in the finals today with Jamie Nicholls and Billy Morgan. Who would have thought? Jamie did a Cab 1440 and backside triple cork.
Jamie on that Cab 14 that he only landed for the first time during qualifiers.
Finland's Peetu Piiroinen didn't medal today so now he'll have to pin his hopes on a win in the pipe.
Finland, represent.
Some love for Brits Billy Morgan and Jamie Nicholls.
Japan's Yuki Kadono got the final qualifying spot and did some sick riding but just couldn't put down his triple cork. Not that that mattered as much today as it usually does.
Yuki, sending over the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.
At just 17 Yuki Kadono's got a long way to go still. This probably won't be his last Olympic appearance.
Even though Seb Toutant didn't win today he had a really healthy take on where contest snowboarding should be going, which includes some good thoughts on more style and course creativity.
Seb Toutant, double dip frontside 1080.
That's a good crew of kids right there. Sage Kotsenburg, gold; Stale Sandbech, silver; Mark McMorris, bronze.
Mark didn't win but his future's still golden.
When you get a gold medal you can claim it.
Stale Sanbech silver for Norway.
The Godfather, Jake Burton was there to show his support.

All Photos: Chris Wellhausen

Sage Kotsenburg Wins Slopestyle Gold at the Sochi 2014 Olympics

Holy shit! Did anyone see this coming? As an underdog heading into the Sochi Olympics, America’s Sage Kotsenburg would have been happy just to make slopestyle finals, but today he walked away with snowboarding's first Olympic gold medal. The best part? He won entirely on his own terms, with a unique set of tricks outside of the triple corks that have dominated contest snowboarding for the past two years.

We like to say that snowboarding is about fun, creativity, style, and progression--four things Sage has always valued and equally tried to demonstrate in his riding. He hasn't always been rewarded for that in contests though as judges have consistently scored his super tweaked tricks lower than other riders doing triple corks with stock grabs, which are generally accepted as the hardest move in slopestyle thus far. But Sage’s first run in finals changed all that (forget the Second Run Sage moniker). His line was not only technical but packed with moves that no one else was doing like a layback tail press backside 180 out and Cab Double Cork 1260 Holy Crail grab, basically a contorted japan and crossrocket mashup. And while style is undoubtedly a crucial part of snowboarding's identity, it was his backside 1620 japan that truly locked up Sage's victory.

Sage Kotsenburg with his Cab 1260 Holy Crail of victory. PHOTO: Chris Wellhausen.

“I like doing crazy things, like spontaneous moves,” Sage said of how he approached his run. “I just had this idea in my mind all day and it ended up working out. I called my brother and I talked to Bill Enos, the US Team coach, and I said ‘I think I might go back 16 japan.’ He was just like, ‘Send it! What do you have to lose?'”

Sage Kotsenburg's Olympic slopestyle gold medal run


Time will tell how this all plays out, but Sage’s win could represent a shift in contest snowboarding because it was long predicted that any rider with gold medal hopes would need a least one triple cork to win, if not two. But in the here-and-now, the fact that triple corks weren't scoring very high was devastating for Olympic slopestyle favorite Mark McMorris.

Mark came to Sochi to win. After paving the way to the podium for the last two years with his backside triple cork 1440 it didn't seem like he could lose. Why would he think otherwise? Judges at events like the Dew Tour and X Games have always rewarded triple corks above everything else. So when Mark set down a Cab triple underflip, frontside double cork 1080, and backside triple cork 1440 on his second run he rightfully expected the highest score of the day. At least that's what it looked like based off his expression as he waited for his score. But again, like qualifiers, Mark's grin turned to confusion when he was given an 88.75.

Mark McMorris's Olympic slopestyle bronze medal run

"Unexplainable," Mark said of his score. "The amount of ups and downs, it's actually funny at this point. It's over. I'm so glad. To ride the way you want to ride is the most important and the rest is up to the judges. I'm happy with everything, the outcome. A lot of people think it should have been different but I'm going to still smile and represent Canada the best I can."

Mark's score was not what any of the other riders expected either because once they saw that the judges weren't putting a run with two triple corks at the top, everyone who followed started to change things up. Stale Sandbech, for one, read the message loud and clear. "I was planning to do the Cab triple, but I figured they didn't score the highest scores for that trick," he said. "So I changed it up to the Cab 12, with a more tweaked grab, kind of my own way of doing the trick." Using that bit of knowledge, Stale rode away with Olympic silver.

Stale Sandbech's Olympic slopestyle silver medal run

The revelation that two triple corks in a run wouldn't necessarily deliver a medal today also effected Canadian Max Parrot, who was another rider heavily favored to medal at Sochi. Although capable of getting two triples, Max dialed it back on his second run doing a Cab 1260, frontside double cork 1260, and backside triple cork 1620 on his last run, which was only good enough for fifth with a 87.25.

Overall, the debut of Olympic slopestyle snowboarding produced both upsets and results that could create far reaching changes for contest riding and judging. Never a dull moment here at Sochi.

Full Olympic slopestyle results

1. Sage Kotsenburg (USA) -- 93.50
2. Stale Sandbech (Norway) -- 91.75
3. Mark McMorris (Canada) -- 88.75
4. Sven Thorgren (Sweden) -- 87.50
5. Max Parrot (Canada) -- 87.25
6. Jamie Nicholls (England) -- 85.50
7. Peetu Piiroinen (Finland) -- 81.25
8. Yuki Kadono (Japan) -- 75.75
9. Sebastian Toutant (Canada) -- 58.50
10. Billy Morgan (England) -- 39.75
11. Roope Tonteri (Finland) -- 39.00
12. Gjermund Braaten (Norway) -- 24.75

More Sage Kotsenburg HERE

Sage Kotsenburg’s ‘Holy Crail’ latest episode

More Sochi 2014 Olympic stories here