Sochi 2014 Slopestyle Qualifications – The Judgement


Jamie Nicholls slayed the course and wowed the judges today – Photo: Nick Atkins/Scene Images

I don’t know if you heard, but a little competition went down in a small Russian village this morning, the Olympic slopestyle qualifiers.

For many this was their first glimpse into the world of snowboard freestyle; news of the fabled triple cork had traveled far enough that even people who had never seen snow before knew what they wanted to see, ‘the must have trick for Sochi’ we called it.

And when it arrived, it was a belter. Billy Morgan can proudly state that not only was he the first athlete to perform at these games, he is now the proud owner of the first Olympic triple cork. His coach, Hamish McKnight, commented before the games that the course would play into Billy’s hands; his ability to generate his own pop and rotation would put him in good stand against the other athletes.

But minutes after he landed controversy was abound; his efforts only scored him a 85.50, putting him in an eventual 6th place in his heat and 14th overall. Surely the judges had got it wrong?

It’s hard when you’re backing an athlete from your own country, but I’d argue that for the most part that the judges got it pretty spot on today. Rather than simply rewarding flat spins over doubles and triples like most of the Twitter-verse screamed into their iPhones, it soon became apparent that this panel were awarding the highest scores to those that demonstrated three things; control, a variety of tricks and the ability to send it.

Charles Reid going upside down with style today, he sure was ‘hot.’ – Photo: Nick Atkins/Scene Images

Flat spins did get higher scores, but only because they are harder than the impressive-looking but not as technically difficult cab double underflips.

Since the first triple was landed in 2010, before that even, we’ve all had a little moan at ‘spin to win’ contest formats, last month’s X Games big air for instance. The riders who came out on top today were the ones who displayed both progression and style, the two most heralded aspects of our sport.

The riders who came out on top today were the ones who displayed both progression and style, the two most heralded aspects of our sport.

Take for instance Max Parrot, who claimed the highest score of the day. He spun a variety of tricks, technical flat spins plus a switch backside triple cork at the end. All through his run he looked masterfully in control, barely even bending his knees when landing.

And Jamie Anderson, her high-scoring run included nothing wilder than a switch backside 540 before going into a back 5 and cab 5, but they were all stylish and huge, putting her tricks way down the landings.

And the other Jamie, Mr Nicholls. After a world beating rail section (which the judges were definitely scoring equally to the kickers, not always the case in the past) he put down a super-tech cab 1440 as well as one of the most stylish backside doubles of the day, and was duly rewarded. Finally overall impression seems to take more in to account than how many TV shows a rider stars in.

Leave out the Schneid remarks, Clemens Schattschneider was killing it today. – Photo: Nick Atkins/Scene Images

This is great news for those of us who’ve had a bit of a moan over competition standings over the last few years. It was hard luck for Billy having to drop first, not knowing this apparent change in judging style, but not the end of the world as he has more than enough tricks in his bag to mix it up for the semis at the weekend, plus the style and balls to match.

So here’s me congratulating the judges on a difficult job well done, aside from seemingly rewarding Alexey Sobolev for that average backflip next to the cannon; what the hell?

Anyway, I’m sure you’ll all have an opinion on this, so go ahead below… But I hope we all agree, anythings better than this.

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