In Defence of Triple Corks


Seb Toots on his way to an X Games gold medal in Tignes last winter, where his run included a super-clean triple cork. Photo: Tristan

Earlier this year, as the chairlifts began to grind to halt and the rust gathered on the edges of those spring shred snowboards, there soon followed the inevitable barrage of banger edits, teaser edits, fun edits, broken chair edits and – of course – triple edits… A convoy of reckless stuntmen hucking and hoping to get those three inverts around in some sort of whirlybird spin, on snow softer than a badger’s earlobe. In the first six weeks alone we witnessed Torgeir Bergrem, Brage Richenburg and Emil Ulsletten all take the Viking by the horn, throwing down a triple 1620, triple backie and a switch backside triple cork 1440 and a cab triple 1260 respectively.

Then, almost instantaneously, came the predictable barrage of comments advocating backside 180 soul surfing and slating any kind of rotation beyond a 720 that doesn’t have a tuck-knee japan or some weird new grab called ‘the strangler’ (invented by a skinny-jeaned new schooler with a stance that you couldn’t fit a deck of cards through).

OK, apologies to the Jed Andersons and LNPs of the world – you’re not solely to blame. But surely, readers, you know what I mean. There’s always someone kicking up a humdinger of an argument about a rider who’s dared to add another rotation or another invert. Even the article posted on this very website showing the Torgeir Bergrem video closed with the statement: “That backside 180 Japan at the end is definitely the raddest trick in this edit…”

I’d beg to differ. Personally, I think flipping three times and doing three and a half full rotations is pretty rad. I struggle to do three rollie-pollies in my living room, and I couldn’t do a 1260 if Silje Norendal promised to come round for dinner and drinks.

Whether we like it or not, progression is gonna keep on… progressing. There’s always going to be another flip, spin or tweak; someone is always going to add to a trick. When asked if a triple was possible in a competition slopestyle run by ESPN two years ago, Torstein Horgmo himself (owner of the world’s first triple cork) responded with a clear “Nope…” and then started laughing at the absurdity of the question. Yet at this year’s US X Games, Mark McMorris, Shaun White, Maxence Parrot and Seppe Smits all threw some sort of triple invert into their runs, leaving the rest of the heavy hitters out in the cold. And of course Jamie Nicholls landed one just yesterday…

Maybe there’ll be a Whitelines article in March 2023 that signs off with… ‘That quadruple Japan 1440 was definitely the raddest trick in the edit…’

There’s no denying it, the triple is here to stay. If you haven’t got it in the bag then you better get used to fighting it out in the semi-finals. That’s the very nature of progression. You might not like doing triples but that’s what competitive snowboarding requires now.

In 1990, as halfpipe pioneer Todd Richards put it, “Going upside down was not cool in snowboarding. Mike Ranquet, Chris Roach and Shaun Palmer all told me that flipping was gay.” Can you imagine snowboarding today without flipping? Going further back, ex US Head Coach and former Burton pro Bud Keene recalls that in the late 1980’s, when people were first spinning 720’s, the general reception was: “Oh my God. Snowboarding’s going to hell. What a bunch of ballerinas.” Can you imagine snowboarding without spinning over 540? Similarly, many snowboarders in the 90’s thought it was pretty wack when they first saw people hitting rails, benches and boxes, but if we fast forward 20 years, that’s one of the most progressive aspects of the sport.

Billy Morgan cranking out a triple cork 1440 in Colorado. Photo: Ed Blomfield

No, the evolution of tricks will never stop and neither will the refinement of them. I’ll hazard a guess that in three years we’ll be seeing cab double 1440 nose grabs and triple backside 1620 seatbelts. Triples are new and we’re creatures of habit; the main trouble with them is simply that they render top-end snowboarding one-step further away from the majority of us mere mortals. Rather than slating them, we’ve just got to accept that there’s always going to be kids pushing the boundaries. So take a step back and appreciate the technicality of what they’re doing. You might not like it, but hell, you can respect it.

And maybe, just maybe, there’ll be a Whitelines article in March 2023 that signs off with… ‘That quadruple Japan 1440 was definitely the raddest trick in the edit…’

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