USA wins first Gold medal

Posted on: February 8th, 2014 by

Sage Kotsenburg wins first goldAmerican snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg won the first gold medal of the Sochi Games Saturday, beating out Canadian favorites Maxine Parrot and Mark Morris in the Olympics’ premiere slopestyle competition.

After Shaun White pulled out of the event a few days ago, the hopes to medal in this event were grim; not to mention the fact that many of the participants had stated the danger of the treacherous course.  Earlier in the day, a female competitor had landed head first in the snow.  Kotsenburg prevailed in what proved to be a difficult fight.

Maxine Parrot landed in fifth, while Mark McMorris, who competed with a broken rib, won bronze.  Norway’s Staale Sandbech, the top scorer of the competition in qualifiers, took silver.  Kostenburg was the only American to advance to the final round of the competition after teammates Charles Guldemond and Ryan Strassel were bumped out in semi-finals earlier in the day.

The 20-year-old Utah native had to fight for his place in the medal round.  He was not among the top eight snowboarders to automatically advance to finals from Thursday’s qualifying competition.  But he steadily improved in the second round, living up to his nickname, “second-run Sage.”

Still, Kostenburg appeared surprised at the positive turn of events.  “Whoa how random is this I made finals at the Olympics!!!” he tweeted.

He was the first man up at the finals and immediately became the one to beat.  The uber laid-back snowboarder tamed the treacherous course that chased away teammate Shaun White earlier in the week and sent several other contenders to the medical tent.

While the course that features a large nesting doll, tricky rails and three jumps took out its fair share of riders, Kotsenburg kept his cool.  His blonde hair flapping out from under his helmet as he soared through the sun-splashed Caucasus Mountains, Kotsenburg looked as if he were cruising down the hill with friends.  Still, there was drama as he waited out the rest of the 12-man field.  He stood off to the side after his second run, a not quite sharp 83.25, and clapped behind a nervous smile as the rest of the field aimed for his score.

McMorris, slowed by his broken rib, couldn’t quite get there. A gold medal favorite before his injury at X Games last month, McMorris needed to scramble to get through the semifinals and his trip down the hill in the finals was solid but not spectacular.  Sandbech, who went next to last, was nearly flawless.  He was so pumped after his second run he belly-flopped onto the ground.  His 91.75 wasn’t quite good enough, leaving only Parrot in Kotsenburg’s way of gold.

Parrot dominated qualifying, posting the best score of the week.  He put together a flawless first run only to sit on the landing of his final jump. He wobbled twice on his second run.  He dropped his head when his 87.25 popped up on the scoreboard while Kotsenburg raised his arms in triumph.

Go Team USA!



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