Olympic hype always adds fuel to fire of progression, but the Winter Games debut of snowboarding slopestyle has really upped the ante. Over the last few years, and especially since it was announced that slopestyle would be added to the Sochi schedule, we've seen an awe-inspiring double cork or two turn into triple cork 1440 combinations and sessions on rail sections that need trained eyes to decipher.
Unlike halfpipe, where there is a standardized venue, Sochi's course could deem what is and isn't doable based on jump sizes and rail arrangement. (To date, the riders' opinions of the current setup range from "kinda sketchy" to "mad fun." TransWorld Snowboarding has the details on the layout.) If athlete feedback winds up shaping a course that's at all similar to last month's X Games, however, here's the breakdown of what the competitors are going to need to go home with some gold.
Backside 1440 Triple Cork
The breakdown: Four full backside rotations and three corked flips. Most riders grab mute (front hand in between their bindings on the toe-side edge) to keep tucked tight and spinning efficiently.
The backstory: Norway's Torstein Horgmo was the first rider to land a frontside triple cork, at the 2011 X Games, but Canadian Mark McMorris was the first to land and perfect the backside triple cork 1440, which is quickly becoming a staple in most of the top riders' runs.
See it in Sochi: McMorris and his teammates, Max Parrot and Sebastien Toutant, all have this trick on lock; so does American Chas Guldemond. (Sadly, Horgmo broke his collarbone in practice this week and won't compete in Sochi.) Expect to see it from all of them, but this trick still belongs to the Canadians, with near-perfect execution every time from McMorris and Parrot.
Cab Triple Underflip
The breakdown: Riding into the jump switch (backward), the rider does three backflips perpendicular to the landing, with a 180-degree rotation out of it to land riding forward.
The backstory: The trick itself is not necessarily the hardest trick in the triple category, but it is the setup for the back-to-back triple combination that Parrot made history with at this year's X Games.
See it in Sochi: Expect to see this trick from Parrot as well as from Norwegian Ståle Sandbech. Parrot is the only rider in the field who has combined this trick with a backside triple cork 1440, which earned him X Games gold in Aspen last month.
Holy Crail 1260
The breakdown: The Holy Crail is twister-like grab where both arms crisscross so the rider can grab opposite edges of his board while spinning three and a half rotations. The grab is a hybrid between a crossrocket and a Japan.
The backstory: This trick belongs to none other than creative master Sage Kotsenburg (USA), who invented the grab. He landed a Cab Holy Crail 1260, a switch frontside maneuver, at the Beijing Air and Style event, but has been attempting the backside 1260 this season.
See it in Sochi: Look to Kotsenburg to land this trick in Sochi, bringing a nice slice of variety to the triple/double cork standard mute grab that the rest of the riders will be performing.
Double Cork 1260
The breakdown: Two sideways flips with three and a half rotations. The trick can be done regular (forward) or switch (backward), frontside or backside.
The backstory: There is a lot of hype around the triple corks and triple flips going into Sochi, but with three jumps on the course and a lot of pressure on these riders, a clean double cork 1260 will definitely be a must-have for the majority of riders.
See it in Sochi: Chas Guldemond, Mark McMorris, and Ståle Sandbech all have a Cab double cork 1260.
Hard-Way 450 (Rail Section)
The breakdown: One-and-three-quarters rotation, spinning in the rider's unnatural direction onto the rail.
The backstory: Rail tricks are getting more and more technical, especially as the jumps are turning into a string of double and triple corks, so spinning onto the rails the hard way is helping to set riders apart from the field.
See it in Sochi: Look to Max Parrot to do a backside hard-way 450.
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