Olympic Slopestyle Judging Causes Controversy

Was Sage Kotsenburg the right winner of Slopestyle at Sochi 2014?

James Carson James Carson

Judging and snowboarding don’t seem to go hand in hand very easily, and this weekend didn’t appear any different. It’s a tough one – a sport entirely reliant on judging is always going to divide opinion, but almost every significant snowboarding website had questions to ask about the judging:

Winners at Sochi 2014 Slopestyle
Was this the right podium? Not everyone seems convinced.

The biggest controversies surrounded Mark McMorris’ scores. The Canadian was always going to be tipped as a hot favourite for the podium, but it didn’t go his way in qualifying. After he nailed a backside triple cork in qualifying, he was only awarded a score of 89.25, later saying ‘it’s pretty ridiculous.’

In the final, he delivered what Sam Oetiker on Onboard called ‘a flawless second run with two triple corks’, but found himself in awarded the bronze.

This tweet suggests that he was feeling slightly miffed about his position:

Mark McMorris Olympic tweet

While most pieces didn’t want to take away gold medallist from Sage Kotsenburg, few seemed completely unease with the manner of his victory. However, a well rounded piece by Tom Monterosso on Snowboarder Mag gives us some clues for why result concluded in Sage’s favour:

Style matters, and at least here in Sochi, flat spins are scoring higher than triple corks at the moment (side note: a looming question on the hill today is whether or not the judges’ newfound ideology will be applied to men’s halfpipe two nights from now which would certainly affect the outcome and possibly change competitive pipe riding forever, but I’ll get to that when the time comes).

Jamie Nicholls, who may have good reason to be aggrieved at sixth place, explained in an exclusive interview with Whitelines:

The X Games seems to reward how many times you go upside down, so it’s nice to see people also spin flat too, like Stale.

With the halfpipe qualifiers starting tomorrow, it’s begging the question whether or not riders will need to change their game plan. You can bet Shaun White will have been watching proceedings very closely.

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