Lead image: Sam Mellish
Here we are then. After much banter, mud slinging, cheerleading and a couple of tough years of point-chasing on behalf of the riders, we finally arrive at the PyeongChang Olympics. Yes, snowboarding’s first chance at a disco dance in the blinding glare of the world’s assembled media went down today with the Men’s Slopestyle qualifications, and we have the blow-by blow.
Whether you’re the kind of person who’ll be enjoying this show with Bowie’s Heroes blasting at full volume and marvelling at the mindblowing manoeuvres young snowboarders can whirl themselves through these days, or someone who views the Olympics as the snowboarding incarnation of death by a thousand cuts, one thing is certain: with now three disciplines, or races, or whatever the hell the FIS calls them (Big Air now joining Halfpipe and Slopestyle in the Olympic mixer in the South Korean Games), our funny habit of sideways sliding down snow-covered inclines plays a bigger part of the Games than ever before.
“Now with three disciplines, or races, or whatever the hell the FIS calls them, our funny habit of sideways sliding down snow-covered inclines plays a bigger part of the Games than ever before”
Slopestyle was ordained to take to the floor first, following hot on the heels of the ever-bizarre opening ceremony, and in a rather unchivalrous fashion it was the men who got the ball rolling. We’d all seen how last year’s Test Event was generally received well by all and sundry, and in the last couple of days marvelled at the laser-cut geometrical perfection of the Slope course that Schneestern had crafted (even though there were certainly some chin-stroking, more skier-philic rail features – rainbow-DFD say whaaat?), but today, after a good few years of noise, it was finally time to shut the fuck up and watch the riders’ actions speak louder.
The qualifiers were broken up into two heats, the riders in each heat having two runs with which to convince the judges that they deserved a shot at turning the Sendometer fully up to 11 in Sunday’s (and when we say Sunday we mean Sunday, but 2am-Sunday-morning-Sunday in Euro timezones) finals. Can’t they just hold it in Laax every time?
With six spots available to rocket riders to the finals from each heat, the pressure was on from the start.