Young Daredevils First To Gold

Slopestyle. What is it exactly? It’s not a race. It’s more like an exhibition, and in my view has more in common with diving and figure skating especially in the way that it’s judged. But unlike diving and figure skating, it seems significantly more dangerous.  There have been quite a few injuries, fortunately none too serious on the Sochi course during practice runs earlier in the week.  One such injury compelled veteran Shaun White to withdraw from the event.  True, a diver could crack open his head on the board or do a belly flop and be knocked unconscious, but that’s rare to see.  I liken the slopstylers to cliff divers.  They are young daredevils.  In impressively fearless fashion, Americans Sage Kostenburg and Jamie Anderson won Gold in the inaugural event.

Obviously including the sport in the Olympics is an attempt to attract the interest of the younger crowd who grew up on the X Games and who might find curling and biathlon skiing a little boring.  I do think they made the mistake of making Slopestyle the first event of the games.  While it is true that Halfpipe snowboarding and Freestyle skiing have yet to “air”, the pioneer daredevils have left the stage and perhaps their age demographic viewers along with them. Speaking of age, the average age of the men who medaled in Slopestyle is 21.  Silver medalist Canadian Mark McMorris in a laid back reflection said that he was just happy to “podium”.  The Gold and Silver medalists on the women’s side are both 23.  You have to admire the Bronze medalist, Jenny Jones of Great Britain who at 33 is likely the oldest competitive snowboarder on the circuit.

I don’t know for certain what the American chances for other Gold medals might be in the Sochi Games, but it is possible that most of them will be from the Snowboarder contingent.  If I had to predict, it would be this: Shaun White and speed skater Shani Davis will win Golds and possibly several other Americans in the various events from Halfpipe to Snowboard Cross. It’s entirely possible for an American skater to eke out a win in short track, but it’s such an unpredictable event that anything could happen – all but one could wipeout and the slowest of the group could skate to victory.  It’s happened before.  Oh the thrill of victory when it’s least expected!

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