Park City native, Sage Kotsenburg (USA), made history in just the start of the Olympic Winter Games held in Sochi. Despite not qualifying in Thursdsay’s opening rounds, Kotsenburg’s incredible performance on Saturday earned him the first ever slopestyle snowboarding gold medal. His winning run consisted of 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.
Kotsenburg holding the USA flag high after earning the first gold medal in Snowboard Slopestyle. Photo: Sal Masekela
“I just kind of do random stuff all the time. I never really make a plan. I had no idea I was going to even do a 1620 in my run until like three minutes before I dropped,” said Sage Kotsenburg. ”The holy crail is a grab I invented a couple months ago, so I really wanted to do it in my run here and to do it in the cab 1260 on the first jump is pretty cool. Ending with a 1620 Japan was pretty crazy too because I had never even tried that trick before. It was pretty random but I guess it worked out.”
Norway’s Staale Sandbech earned silver and Canadian Mark McMorris took home the bronze. The Olympic gold medalist showed his respect for fellow competitors when he insisted Sandbech and McMorris join him on the podium.
Kotsenburg continued, “All the riders were stoked today with how everything was organized. It was really smooth and we just went out there and rode and did our thing. All of us were having a blast today; you could see us all high-fiving at the bottom and it’s not like we’re bummed out when other people come down and land a run. As much as you want to stay on top, you want them to get a good score too because I grew up with Mark (McMorris, Canada) and Staale (Sandbech, Norway). We’ve just become such good friends over the past couple years. It’s sick to be on the podium with them and everyone is stoked for each other.”
With the powerful momentum of kicking off the event with a gold medal for USA, the U.S Slopestyle Snowboarding coach has high hopes that this victorious spirit will transfer over to fellow athletes.
“There’s nothing like starting out the Olympics for Team USA with a gold medal. The momentum is something we look forward to all the teams grasping onto and really using it as energy to move forward themselves and to get themselves some gold medals.
“It’s not always what you do, it’s how you do it, and Sage proved that here today with his unique grab set that he has. All his tricks are very creative and that’s how he wants to portray snowboarding and that’s how we want to portray snowboarding as Team USA. It is an absolute blast being up here and riding with your friends.” - Mike Jankowski, U.S. Snowboarding Slopestyle Coach
To watch the slopestyle final yourself, stay tuned tonight on NBC where the final will air at 8pm EST and can be streamed on NBCOlympics.com.