So after what seems like months and months of hype, the Winter Olympics in Sochi are finally underway with qualification for the men's snowboarding slopestyle going down this morning.
The big news of the day is that in heat 1, Team GB's Jamie Nicholls made it through to the finals on Saturday with a run that included a cab 1440, placing him in 4th! This was admittedly unprecedented but we at Whitelines are so stoked for the Yorkshire Ripper.
Billy Morgan, meanwhile, who in Bib 1 was the first athlete to take to the stage in Sochi and the first snowboarder to drop in for an Olympic slopestyle event, narrowly missed out with a 6th place finish. Nevertheless, he was the first rider to throw the much vaunted backside triple cork (which many were predicting will be needed to win gold), and this bodes well for his chances in the semi final this weekend, where a top 4 finish will be enough to join the finalists.
we at Whitelines are so stoked for the Yorkshire Ripper.
There was some puzzling judging going down throughout, and so far it seems that flat spins are being well rewarded - or at least, a good variety between traditional rotations and corked tricks. Norway's Stale Sandbech came first in Heat 1 with a run that included a textbook backside 1440.
Peetu Piiroinen and Seb Toots also came through, both putting down super smooth runs which included a mix of flat spins and upside downs. It has to be said that in this first heat the judging did have some odd moments, seemingly marking up local boy Alexey Sobolev for a run that included a straight backflip of the lip of one of the rail features... bizarre.
The second heat stepped up the scoring though, the judges being a bit more in agreement with what gave a good place. Max Parrot claimed the biggest score of the day with a 97.5; his run included a massive switch backside triple on the last jump which at last extracted some emotion form the Canadian rider.
Sven Thorgen came in as a surprise to us, qualifying with a run chock a block full of huge flat spins and the cleanest bonk on the tricky Russian doll feature so far. He cocked up his second run but an original 94.25 was enough for a third place, with Finland-er Roope Tonteri reeling in second.
Gjermund Braaten did well too, taking the last automatic finals spot from under Seppe Smitts' nose, even after the Belgian's slow and stylish dubs and flats. This was definitely the trickier of the two heats.
Mark McMorris surprisingly didn't make the top four so will have to battle it out in the semi-finals on Saturday; he was one of the ones that fell to the seductive promises of the triple cork. He was not happy.
Special mention must go to Sage Kotsenburg for separating his and Aimee Fuller's hairdos in time to show some flare in his runs, chicken wing double corks and a back 180 handplant being our favourites.
And that was that! As far as we can tell the top four from each heat automatically go through to the finals on Saturday, with the rest having to battle it out once more for the last four places. Good luck!