American Sage Kostenburg's victory in the Olympic debut of slopestyle was a long time coming – he hasn’t won a contest in close to seven years, and the last time was a small regional event when he was a teenager.
“I never thought I would make it to the finals” Kotsenburg said. “I was just super relaxed and couldn’t believe I was in the finals.”
Kostenburg is coached by Bill Enos of Waterville Valley, NH.
“I turned to Bill just before my run and told him I was going to throw a Japan 1620, and Bill said, 'Send it', so I did," Kostenburg said.
It just happened to be the first time he had performed the trick, called the Holy Crail, in competition. His run thrilled snowboarding enthusiasts because of the overall fluid nature and total expression of his style. It was the first time all year that a major snowboarding event was won with out throwing some sort of triple maneuver
Kotsenburg's gold is a victory for snowboarding style and free spirit, as many believe that even the X Games were becoming a bit too cookie-cutter.
“Style won today and that could change the direction of the sport," said Alysaa Roenigk, a senior writer for ESPN who focuses on the X Games.
The American boarder, who had to compete in the morning's semifinal in order to qualify for the final, showed no sign of fatigue as he threw down two strong runs in the final round. He scored the winning 93.50 score in his first run of the final.
Staale Sandbech from Norway took the silver and X Games champion Mark McMorris of Canada the bronze. All three medalists are 20 years old.
Sandbech, of Norway, praised Kotsenburg for unique grabs on his snowboard during his two final runs as well as his four-and-a-half rotation spin off one of the jumps.
"Snowboarding has no kind of limits - you can do bigger tricks and you can do more spins and more flips. You can do different grabs you can do more grabs," Sandbech said. "Sage obviously did some super tech-creative grabs and a 1620 (rotation move) - he had such a sick rail run.”
McMorris, who broke a rib two weeks ago at the X Games in Aspen, USA, had two clutch runs on Saturday. The first helped him get through the semifinal round, the second bought him the bronze medal.
Snowboarding made an Olympic statement today to the world and to itself: "We are at Olympic Winter Games in Sochi and we have soul."