Sochi's winter Olympic halfpipe showdown continued the trend of back-to-back double corks that kicked off at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia. As expected Tuesday at the men’s halfpipe finals, we saw classic straight airs and stylish throwbacks from the riders, who were all looking to stand out in a sea of somersaults. Here's the breakdown in the doubles department and the five top tricks judges were looking for.
Cab Double Cork 1440, aka the YOLO Flip
The breakdown: Four full rotations, taking off backward (switch) and landing forward.
The backstory: At the 2013 X Games in Tignes, France, Iouri Podladtchikov landed his version of this trick, naming it the YOLO flip—an homage to the phrase “You only live once.” Since then, Shaun White has gone on to perfect it, landing his first competition YOLO at the Olympic qualifiers in Mammoth Lakes, California, in January.
Did you know? Only White and Iouri Podladtchikov, or “I-Pod,” have the YOLO flip in their bag of tricks.
The breakdown: Three and a half rotations, taking off forward and landing forward.
The backstory: While the 1260 is the next mark up in progression from the standard 1080, few riders have incorporated this trick into their run, making it a well-rewarded rarity in pipe contests.
Did you know? Rookie U.S. rider Taylor Gold earned his ticket to Sochi with a solid and smooth frontside 1260. Teammate Greg Bretz has one in the mix as well.
Frontside Double Cork 1080 to Cab Double Cork 1080
The breakdown: On the first hit, the rider takes off forward and spins frontside with two full rotations and two flips, landing backward. On the next hit, the rider comes in backward to the Cab (switch frontside) double cork 1080, spinning two full rotations and two flips, landing forward.
The backstory: Louie Vito and Shaun White were the first two people to land a double cork 1080 in competition, at the New Zealand Open in 2009. Since then, these tricks are a staple for any rider looking to compete in a high-level pipe contest.
Did you know? The majority of riders in Sochi have back-to-back double corks in their repertoires, but Greg Bretz is said to do it best.
The breakdown: Taking off forward, doing two backflips parallel to the wall of the pipe, and landing going forward.
The backstory: This is a doubled-up version of the Crippler, which is a mainstay of snowboarding’s yesteryear and remains popular in the ladies’ field. It’s been revived in the men's competition with this double variation.
Did you know? China's Yiwei Zhang has a huge double Crippler in his arsenal of doubles, along with Taylor Gold.
The breakdown: A straight air is a grabbed trick with no rotation. A switch straight air is a grabbed trick going backward with no rotation. A 540 is one and a half rotations.
The backstory: Straight airs are no longer mandatory in FIS competition, but huge straight airs, switch straight airs, and perfectly executed and tweaked 540s and alley-oops are a winning-run trend these days, giving riders an opportunity to showcase their style, which oftentimes gets lost in the double corks.
Did you know? Danny Davis is known for his huge switch method, Shaun White is known for his lofty, slowly spun frontside 540 stalefish, and Greg Bretz has made a name for himself with his tweaked-out air-to-fakie.
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