"Sage's run was really cool. His style is amazing," Parrot said. "I just think it would be helpful if the judges tell us if they are going to judge style or tricks. It would be good to know before the event."
But perhaps even the judges didn't yet know. It was as if, at the start of finals, they realized that rewarding two triple corks in the Olympics would send the sport of slopestyle snowboarding on an irreversible trajectory toward quads and 1800s and aerial skiing. So they dug in their heels and made a statement that quite possibly changed the course of the sport's progression.
"Looking at where slopestyle judging has been going, today is a huge surprise," said Andy Finch, who competed on the 2006 Olympic halfpipe team and is in Sochi working as an analyst. "But the snowboarding community has been crying for style to be valued and their voices have been heard. The judges listened to them, and they took a huge stand. It's heartbreaking to see how hard Max, Sven and McMorris pushed to do those gnarly tricks. But snowboarders have been fighting this progression, and it's interesting the stand was made here at the Olympics."
If there was one rider who was perfectly content with the way the scores were dealt, it was the guy who didn't come to the Olympics planning to win. In the weeks leading up to slopestyle's Olympic debut, Kotsenburg said he just wanted to show a different side to snowboarding, ride his way, have fun and, "land my random, weird tricks." He said he was happy just to make the team, surprised to make finals and thrilled to land the run he wanted to land. He had never even tried that backside 1620 Japan before he landed it in his first run. Riders in the rest of the field stressed for months over their Olympic runs, but Kotsenburg woke up Saturday morning and a thought popped into his mind.
"I got this crazy idea, so I called my brother and then I talked to Billy [Enos], the U.S. team coach," Kotsenburg said. "I said, 'I think I'm going to do a [backside] 1620 Japan.' I've never tried it, but I like doing crazy, spontaneous things. Billy said, 'Send it. What do you have to lose?'"
In the end, a lot less than he had to gain.