This winter, the 2018 Olympics is taking place in PyeongChang, South Korea. The opening ceremony started on February 9, 2018 and will conclude on February 23, 2018. There are four new events in this year’s Olympics: Long-Track Speedskating, Curling – Mixed Double, Alpine Skiing, and Big Air Snowboarding.
Big Air debuted as a new official event this year as a snowboarding sport. Instead of racing against time or individual people, Big Air is a 49 meter tall ramp with its steepest slope at 40°. The competitors get judged by how well their trick is executed during their time in the air. This event has been in the X Games in years past, but never before as an official event. Skiers also participate in Big Air Skiing, but the IOC never listed it as a participating event for skiers in the 2018 Olympic Games.
The United States has had success with the new event already. Red Gerard, 17 years old, won the gold medal for the U.S. with his backside triple cork 1440. To break it down and make it easier to understand: “Backside” – Gerard turns his back towards the slope to start his first rotation. “Triple Cork” – Then his whole body completes three vertical flips. “1440” – This number describes the total degrees spun of the backside of the snowboard. (360°x4=1440°)
Jamie Anderson brought home a gold for the U.S. as well, in the Ladies’ Slopestyle. The windy weather changed the format of the competition from three tries to achieve the highest score, to only two runs. Anderson successfully completed a Double Nine which scored her an 83.00. The second place competitor placed lower than 75.00.
Athletes to Watch For
Jamie Anderson – Anderson won gold at the Sochi Games in 2014 and silver during the 2015-16 season X Games. She has also won three world cups – including the slopestyle Olympic test event – and the World Snowboard Federation’s World Championships for slopestyle and Big Air. The 2016-17 season started off good for Anderson with a World Cup Big Air win in Copper Mountain, Colorado. She continued her dominance when solidifying her Olympic spot after only 2 selection events.
Kelly Clark – Clark has competed at four Olympic Winter Games and took home medals at three. For nearly 15 years, she has been a constant, persistant force on the U.S. team and internationally. She has won 16 X Games medals and 13 world cup wins (since Dec. 11, 2017).
Chloe Kim – At just 17 years old, Chloe Kim is currently dominating the women’s halfpipe snowboarding scene. She won the Park City U.S. Grand Prix stop and scored a perfect 100 during the 2015-16 season. She also won gold at the X Games and both halfpipe and slopestyle at the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. Chloe was the first to secure her Olympic spot at the Dew Tour, which was only the second selection event of four.
Julia Marino – Marino won in front of a hometown crowd at the Big Air at Fenway Park in 2016. Her top-10 Big Air finishes include: a second-place finish at the Olympic test event in November 2016. At the World Snowboard Federation’s World Championships in 2016, Marino became the first woman ever to land a double in slopestyle competition, and she landed two in the same run – a Cab double underflip on her first jump and a double backflip on her last jump.
Red Gerard – 17-year-old Redman Gerard will be heading to his first Olympic Winter Games as one of the youngest athletes in PyeongChang. The only younger athlete on the U.S. Snowboard Team is Hailey Langland, also 17 years old.
Ben Ferguson – Ferguson has quickly worked his way into snowboarding’s elite circle. He narrowly missed making the Olympic roster in 2014, but has continued to impress in international competitions, including: a silver medal at the 2016 X Games and a win at the 2016 Burton US Open.
Ryan Stassel – Ryan Stassek landed himself a spot on the team in Sochi prior to the 2014 Games. He continues to impress in both slopestyle and big air, including: third-place finish at the Big Air test event and a third-place finish at the first U.S. Grand Prix of the 2016-17 season.
Nick Baumgartner – Nick Baumgartner has a podium from the Olympic test event in Korea and is a solid medal contender. He worked his way back from an injury this season and made the big final in the last selection event, showing his speed is increasing as the Olympic Games begin.