Sage Kotsenburg Wins First 2014 Olympic Medal For US
The US’s Sage Kotsenburg has achieved many firsts with his victory in Men’s Slopestyle Snowboarding earlier today: it is the first gold medal of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic games, the first medal and gold medal for the US, and the first gold medal in a brand new Olympic sport. But the 20-year-old from Idaho is taking his upset win in stride, even though the judges decision is somewhat controversial.
Kotsenberg scored a whopping 93.5 on his very first run, 1.75 points ahead of silver medalist Staale Sandbech of Norway. Kotsenberg opted not even to take a second run. The highlight of his performance was a move technically called a ”1620 Japan Air Mute Grab,” but which Kotsenberg refers to as “The Holy Crail” for its difficulty. It had never been seen in competition before, and Kostenberg said he’d never even attempted it and didn’t know he would until moments before the run.
According to CBS News, all of Kotsenberg’s chief competitors assumed that a more demanding move called a triple cork would be essential for this first win in the newly-minted Olympic event. But Kotsenberg’s win has led some to conclude that judges are looking for creativity as much as technical skill and athleticism.
The slopestyle attracted attention this week when American superstar Shaun White dropped out at the last minute to focus on his halfpipe performance. (White is trying to become the first American man to win gold in the same event at three separate Winter Olympics.) Canada’s dominant men’s team criticized the boarder, saying he was afraid of losing. That nation was presumed to take gold in the event, and at least one other medal. But they walked away with bronze, for Mark McMorris, who competed with a broken rib. Canadian Max Parrot, who won the recent Winter X Games, placed fifth.