2014 Winter Olympics: Slopestyle brings Canada first medal

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(Contributed photo)

The men’s slopestyle held their semifinals and finals today, starting at 12:30 a.m. and 3:45 a.m. respectively. Canada already showed a lot of promise going into the event, with four competitors showcasing their skills and all of them qualifying. After the snow had settled, Mark McMorris came through with Canada’s first medal in the Olympics, placing third in the finals with a score of 88.75, behind Norway’s Staale Sandbech and USA’s Sage Kotsenberg.

But his journey was not easy. Not only did he recover from a rib injury abstained two weeks ago, he still had to battle back into shape to compete in the Olympics at his best. McMorris did not qualify for the finals in the first qualifying round, so he had to compete in the semifinals alongside teammate Charles Reid.

Each snowboarder had two runs to put forth their best effort, with the highest run score being taken as the qualifying score. Each snowboarder got an opportunity to showcase their skills by doing tricks off pipes and spins off ramps. Each snowboarder was marked on style of tricks, difficulty, and execution. McMorris placed third in the semifinals with a score of 89.25, while Reid finished 14th with a score of 46.25. The best four scores qualified for the finals, and McMorris joined teammates Maxence Parrot and Sebastian Toutante, who automatically qualified for the finals in their respective heats during the qualifying round on Thursday.

As per the last two events, the finals took the best time of each competitor to decide whether or not they would make it onto the podium. After the final run, McMorris secured a third place finish after Sandbech completed a terrific run that doubled his score to 91.75 to steal silver. Sage Kotsenberg took the gold home for USA.

Maxence Parrot finished fifth place and Sebastian Toutante placed ninth overall out of 12 finalists.

This was the first time the slopestyle event has been introduced to the Olympics, so history is being made with the first medal contenders and sets the pace for future competition. At first, this event was a little confusing to understand because upon first glance, one can assume the judges relied mainly on execution of tricks rather than the trick itself, and the difficulty.

But after watching it for a few hours, one can understand that the scores are based on many factors, including difficulty of trick, execution and how clean the run looked. Balance was extremely important and if a snowboarder lost their balance even just a little, they could be punished for it on the scoresheet. This event shows a lot of promise in its expansion of the snowboarding events and provides another sport for Olympians to compete in come future Olympics.

The ladies slopestyle will be held on Sunday, starting at 1:30 a.m. EST and carrying on throughout the night. Canada also has potential athletes primed to capture medals in this event as well.

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