Snowboarding's top moments from 2014 Sochi Olympics
The 2014 Sochi Games marked the fifth time that snowboarding has been part of the Olympic program. Some disciplines - halfpipe and parallel giant slalom - have been around since the beginning while a few other events - slopestyle and parallel slalom - made their Olympic debut in a year where the sport's Olympic presence was greatly expanded.
There were exciting finishes across the board and perhaps what these Games will be known for above all else is introducing the world to a new crop of stars.
When you think back to snowboarding in Sochi, here are the items you should remember.
1. Sage Kotsenburg's slopestyle run represented a possible historic shift for the sport
If you've watched slopestyle contests over the last few years, you may have noticed a certain formula: the more spins and - in particular - the more flips you have in your run, the higher you land on the podium. The triple cork - a trick with three flips and four full rotations - looked like the literal "gold standard" for a slopestyle run. Bucking the trend of how the sport was progressing, Sage Kotsenburg had a completely different idea on mind - he was going to do what he wanted to do in his run, regardless of how judges might score it.
It worked out well for Kotsenburg. He mixed up the way he grabbed his snowboard on each jump, showing off both creativity and technical difficulty, then landed a backside 1620 on the final jump - a trick he had never tried before, a trick that he decided to try just minutes before he dropped in. The run was good enough for gold, beating out some other great runs, including one where Mark McMorris landed two triple corks.
Here's a look at Kotsenburg's gold-medal-winning slopestyle run:
Embedded video_content_type: Sage Kotsenburg's gold medal run in slopestyle
- RECAP: Sage wins first gold medal of 2014 Olympics
- VIDEO: Aerial look at Sage's gold medal run
- VIDEO: Science behind Sage's run
- PHOTOS: Sage wins slopestyle
- Olympians on Twitter react to Sage's win
- FULL REPLAY: Men's slopestyle final
- MEDAL CEREMONY: Men's slopestyle
With the victory, Kotsenburg became the first gold medal winner of the Sochi Games. Which leads to the next item...
2. Sage Kotsenburg should be the sport's next big star
Earning the first gold medal of the Olympics for the United States will always go over well back home, but when you're a witty, charismatic guy like Kotsenburg, it can make you a media darling.
Kotsenburg is one of the best representatives that snowboarding could possibly ask for, truly embodifying what the sport is all about - having fun. The king of "spoice" is an authentic voice in the world of snowboarding, not afraid to tell it like it is. But he can also crack wise with the best of them, as seen in this clip from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon:
Embedded video_content_type: Fallon and Kotsenburg on the pros and cons of being a gold medal snowboarder
Embrace him, America. Kotsenburg deserves your attention even once the torch has been extinguished.
3. Jamie Anderson gave the U.S. a slopestyle sweep
Just a day after Kotsenburg won gold, Jamie Anderson delivered in the women's event, earning the win and giving the United States a sweep of the slopestyle gold medals. Anderson entered the Games as the gold medal favorite for the women, but a win wouldn't come easy as she sat in fifth place heading into her final run.
With the pressure as high as it gets, the yogi Anderson did what she does best - remaining calm and collected, then dropping in and nailing her big tricks. Here's a look at her winning run:
Embedded video_content_type: Jamie Anderson's golden run in snowboarding slopestyle
- RECAP: Anderson wins gold, completes U.S. sweep
- PHOTOS: Anderson wins slopestyle gold medal
- VIDEO: Anderson's journey to slopestyle gold
- FULL REPLAY: Women's slopestyle final
- MEDAL CEREMONY: Women's slopestyle
4. Slopestyle had a successful Olympic debut
Early in the Games, all the talk was about how the slopestyle course was dangerous and not built properly. Torstein Horgmo broke a collarbone in practice, Ty Walker dealt with various bumps and bruises, Shaun White even pulled out of the event altogether for safety reasons. As Kotsenburg said, it was a course that truly "separated the men from the boys."
Once the slopestyle contest got going though, the course didn't seem to be an issue for most of the athletes. Plenty of riders put down their runs, and the men's and women's contests were both great overall.
So with the success of slopestyle, what could be next? The natural next step seems to be the addition of big air - a contest with one massive jump where snowboarders execute the best trick they can. The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) is reportedly very interested in getting it included in future Olympics.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Through the lens: Men's snowboarding slopestyle Olympic final
5. Pushing progression payed off for Podladtchikov
In the halfpipe, the man to beat for the better part of a decade has been Shaun White. In Vancouver, he unveiled a new trick - the double McTwist 1260. It was a trick he didn't even need to land in order to win the contest, but it was a way for him to raise the bar one more notch for what it would take to dethrone him.
Switzerland's Iouri Podladtchikov, one of White's biggest rivals over the years, was the first rider to learn and match the double McTwist 1260, but he always seemed to be a step behind the two-time gold medalist.
Last year Podladtchikov, the man known as "I-Pod," decided that he would be the one to push the progression instead of White. While White struggled to learn the triple cork, Podladtchikov perfected double cork 1440 - a trick similar to the double McTwist 1260, but with an extra half-degree of rotation. Dubbing it the "YOLO flip," I-Pod unveiled the trick last March, and White immediately was motivated to learn it.
White indeed learned the trick on his private halfpipe in Australia, executing it at the U.S. Grand Prix events while I-Pod struggled to land it consistently at X Games just two weeks before the Olympics. In Sochi though, it was clear that all of Podladtchikov's practice had payed off - he landed the double cork 1440 cleanly, White did not. As a result, Podladtchikov left with a gold medal, White missed the podium completely.
Embedded video_content_type: I-Pod seals halfpipe gold by landing YOLO
- RECAP: I-Pod dethrones Shaun White in halfpipe
- VIDEO: The trick that beat Shaun White
- VIDEO: The science behind the YOLO flip
- VIDEO: I-Pod goes from skateboarding to Olympic gold
- PHOTOS: Men's halfpipe final
- FULL REPLAY: Men's halfpipe final
- MEDAL CEREMONY: Men's halfpipe
6. The Land of the Rising Sun is a rising force
With each year passing year, Japan's interest in snowboarding seems to grow. That interest has started to pay dividends in Sochi.
Men's halfpipe - an event traditionally dominated by Americans, including a U.S. sweep of the medals in 2002 - featured Podladtchikov flanked on the podium by two Japanese teenagers. 15-year-old Ayumu Hirano - considered the future of halfpipe snowboarding - earned silver, while his 18-year-old teammate Taku Hiraoka took bronze.
Japan earned a total of three medals in snowboarding, with Tomoka Takeuchi also earning the silver medal in women's parallel giant slalom - the first medal ever earned by a female Japanese snowboarder.
Embedded video_content_type: Ayumu Hirano's silver medal halfpipe run
- VIDEO: Taku Hiraoka's bronze medal halfpipe run
- VIDEO: Tomoka Takeuchi earns silver in the parallel giant slalom big final
7. No athletes completed the historic three-peat
Leading into the Games, a big topic of discussion was the possibility of historic three-peats in Sochi, as Seth Wescott (snowboard cross) and Shaun White (halfpipe) were set up with opportunities to become the first American male to accomplish the feat of winning three gold medals in one event at the Winter Olympics.
Unfortunately for Wescott, a torn ACL last April would derail his hopes of a three-peat. Although he returned to competition prior to the Sochi Games, he clearly wasn't at full strength as the results weren't there for him. Wescott was ultimately left off the Olympic team, unable to even attempt to defend his gold medals.
For White, the opportunity was there. After pulling out of slopestyle - passing up the chance to become the first snowboarder to win two medals in one Games in the process - White focused solely on halfpipe. Despite favorable odds, White fell on his first run in the halfpipe finals, then failed to execute his second run cleanly enough to land on the podium.
Embedded video_content_type: Shaun White misses out on halfpipe podium
- VIDEO: White crashes in first run of halfpipe finals
- VIDEO: The trick that beat Shaun White
- VIDEO: White says he may return for 2018 Games
8. Kaitlyn Farrington is America's new snowboarding sweetheart
American Kaitlyn Farrington entered the Games pegged as a medal contender but was passed over in most of the discussions around the gold medal in favor of her teammate Kelly Clark and 2010 gold medalist Torah Bright of Australia. Forced to fight her way through all three rounds of competition, Farrington's bag of technical tricks in the halfpipe final earned her the gold medal, ahead of each of the last three gold medalists - Bright, Clark and fellow American Hannah Teter.
Still just 24, Farrington should be in the mix for the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, leaving her as another rider who should capture America's attention throughout the next four years.
Embedded video_content_type: Kaitlyn Farrington wins halfpipe gold
- RECAP: Farrington defeats veterans for halfpipe gold
- PHOTOS: Women's halfpipe final
- FULL REPLAY: Women's halfpipe final
- MEDAL CEREMONY: Women's halfpipe
9. There is some bright young talent on deck for Pyeongchang
While the United States was well-represented with two medals in women's halfpipe, there was one rider missing from the mix.
13-year-old Chloe Kim was the second-best U.S. rider in women's halfpipe, behind only Kelly Clark, all season long but was too young to qualify for the Olympics. She deserved to be in Sochi but will have to wait four more years until the Pyeongchang Games to make her Olympic debut. Perhaps her situation will warrant a revisiting of the age limit restriction from the IOC, but regardless, her time is coming.
In addition to Kim, there are a number of other Americans currently under the age of 18 who could develop into strong competitors by the time the Olympics make it to South Korea.
Gabe Ferguson, 14, and Kyle Mack, 16, are dual threats who compete in both men's halfpipe and men's slopestyle. Ty Walker, 16, already made her Olympic debut in slopestyle in Sochi, but with Olympic experience under her belt and four more years to improve, the sky could be the limit.
10. Alex Deibold and Trevor Jacob provided the most exciting battle in snowboard cross
Deibold and Jacob went head-to-head in the semifinals and ended up battling for third place - the final transfer spot into the big final. The two crossed the line together in an actual photo finish, with Deibold narrowly edging out Jacob for the spot. Deibold took advantage of the opportunity, going on to finish third in the big final and earning a bronze medal - which he dedicated to Bode Miller's late brother, Chelone - for the U.S.
Embedded video_content_type: Photo finish in men's snowboard cross semifinal
- RECAP: Deibold earns snowboard cross bronze, Vaultier wins gold
- PHOTOS: Men's snowboard cross
- VIDEO: France's Pierre Vaultier wins gold in men's snowboard cross big final
- VIDEO: Deibold analyzes bronze-medal-winning race
- Knee brace no problem for gold medalist Pierre Vaultier
- Alex Deibold: From wax technician to Olympic bronze medalist
- Trevor Jacob, five-tool athlete of action sports, finds niche in snowboard cross
- FULL REPLAY: Men's snowboard cross finals
- MEDAL CEREMONY: Men's snowboard cross
11. Nate Holland and Lindsey Jacobellis experienced more heartbreak
The best hopes for a U.S. gold medal in snowboard cross seemed to rest with Nate Holland and Lindsey Jacobellis, both of whom have had their fair share of Olympic heartbreaks over the years.
Holland has been one of the most dominant snowboard cross racers for a long time but often gets overlooked because he has no Olympic medals to his credit. The streak continued in Sochi when Holland mistimed a jump in the opening round of racing and lost speed, able to do nothing but watch his competitors zoom past him.
Embedded video_content_type: More heartbreak for Nate Holland in men's snowboard cross
Jacobellis, another one of the sport's most dominant racers for the last decade, has one medal to her credit - a silver from Torino that should have been a gold. She gave away a win after crashing on a trick on the second-to-last jump that year, then failed to advance to the big final in Vancouver after missing a gate in the semis. This year in Sochi, she was leading her heat by a decent margin in the semifinals when she inexplicably crashed and fell to the back of the pack, ending her medal hopes.
Embedded video_content_type: Lindsey Jacobellis crashes again at Olympics
12. Eva Samkova has the best pre-race ritual
20-year-old Czech Eva Samkova was the most dominant racer in women's snowboard cross, advancing through every round of competition by leading wire-to-wire and also topping the timed qualifying by a wide margin on her way to a gold medal.
She also has one of the coolest pre-race rituals. Right before finals, she paints a mustache on her upper lip as a "lucky" tradition. For Sochi, she painted a special red, white and blue mustache in the style of the Czech flag.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Photos: Women's snowboard cross gold medalist Eva Samkova sports painted mustache
- RECAP: Jacobellis crashes out in snowboard cross, Samkova wins gold
- PHOTOS: Women's snowboard cross
- VIDEO: Eva Samkova wins gold in women's snowboard cross big final
- VIDEO: Eva Samkova's helmet cam view
- FULL REPLAY: Women's snowboard cross finals
- MEDAL CEREMONY: Women's snowboard cross
13. Torah Bright is the hardest working boarder in the business
The 2010 gold medalist in women's halfpipe, Torah Bright could have chosen to focus exclusively on that one event for Sochi, putting all her effort into keeping that spot atop the podium. Instead Bright, at the urging of her brother Ben, decided to make history.
Bright qualified for three different events - halfpipe, slopestyle and snowboard cross - becoming the first snowboarder to compete in three different events. While she didn't earn a medal in slopestyle or snowboard cross - she wasn't considered a favorite in either event - her seventh-place finish in slopestyle was a great result. Training for three events didn't seem to detract from her halfpipe defense either, as she earned a silver medal in that one.
Embedded video_content_type: Torah Bright takes home halfpipe silver
- Torah Bright on record-setting Olympics: 'It's all about the journey'
- VIDEO: Torah Bright's run from slopestyle qualifying
14. Vic Wild and Alena Zavarzina provided a great love story for Russia
Unable to receive funding or support for his alpine snowboarding career in the United States, Vic Wild - a native of White Salmon, Wash. - became a Russian citizen in 2011 when he married his Russian girlfriend, fellow alpine snowboarder Alena Zavarzina. The marriage allowed him to join the Russian snowboarding team, and his career has flourished since then.
Husband and wife ended up winning medals within minutes of each other in parallel giant slalom. Zavarzina won the small final in women's PGS to earn a bronze medal, then a few minutes later Wild captured gold with a win in the big final of men's PGS. The two embraced at the bottom of the course, surrounded by a frenzied Russian crowd of spectators cheering them on.
First was Zavarzina's win in the women's small final:
Embedded video_content_type: Russia's Alena Zavarzina earns bronze in parallel giant slalom
Followed minutes later by Wild winning the men's big final:
Embedded video_content_type: Vic Wild wins gold in men's parallel giant slalom
- RECAP: Husband/wife duo Wild, Zavarzina win medals in parallel giant slalom
- Expat Wild, wife storm PGS podiums for Russia
- PHOTOS: Men's and women's parallel giant slalom
- VIDEO: Patrizia Kummer wins gold in women's parallel giant slalom big final
- FULL REPLAY: Men's and women's parallel giant slalom finals
- MEDAL CEREMONY: Men's parallel giant slalom
- MEDAL CEREMONY: Women's parallel giant slalom
15. Vic Wild's dominant performance in Sochi was one for the history books
Three days after winning parallel giant slalom gold, Wild doubled up on his golden haul with a victory in the parallel slalom. Wild, already the first Russian snowboarder to win an Olympic gold medal, became the first snowboarder from any country to ever win two gold medals at one Olympics. He also tied Zan Kosir (bronze in parallel giant slalom, silver in parallel slalom) as the first snowboarders to win two medals of any color at one Games.
Wild's performance on the soil of his adopted country was so great that it even prompted Russian president Vladimir Putin to chime in and congratulate the expat on the double gold.
Embedded video_content_type: Vic Wild takes gold in men's parallel slalom
- RECAP: Wild earns double gold with parallel slalom win, makes history
- Vic's wild ride into snowboard history
- PHOTOS: Men's parallel slalom finals
- PHOTOS: Women's parallel slalom finals
- FULL REPLAY: Men's and women's parallel slalom finals
- MEDAL CEREMONY: Men's parallel slalom
- MEDAL CEREMONY: Women's parallel slalom
16. Can we get a replay of that?
If you watched the live feeds from the slopestyle events, you may have seen some tricks going down that were difficult to comprehend. But if you paid close enough attention, you may have caught a few other little things that made you stop and think, "Wait, did I just see what I think I did?"
First up: Right before Finland's Roope Tonteri dropped in for his run during men's slopestyle finals, the camera caught a glimpse of his coach, Antti Koskinen, next to him doing some... knitting?
"I think that it looks really weird, so it's kind of funny," Tonteri said of the knitting, according to The Wall Street Journal. "Everybody just thinks, 'What's he doing?'
Embedded video_content_type: Slopestyle snowboarding coach would rather knit
Then there was Austria's Anna Gasser. She was the number one qualifier in the opening round of competition, but in the finals, she stumbled out of the gate on her first run... literally.
Prior to her run, Gasser was apparently given the signal to start her run just a little too soon. She was halfway down the drop-in hill when she had to stop and go back up. However, she ran into some issues getting back up the hill. Then some course staffers attempted to come to her aid, and the rest you just need to see for yourself:
Embedded video_content_type: Anna Gasser stumbles out of the gate, literally
That's a wrap on the Sochi 2014 Games - the biggest Olympics ever for snowboarding. The Winter Olympics may not happen again for another four years, but all the snowboarders you've watched over the last three weeks aren't going away, so make sure to keep following along with the sport's new stars as they continue their careers from now until they reach Pyeongchang.
Best of Sochi