Snowboard has only been on the Olympic Winter program since the Nagano Games in 1998, making it the newest Olympic Winter discipline. The sport was developed in the United States in the 1960s, and as surfers and skateboarders became increasingly involved, the sport boomed.
Two Snowboard events were available to men and women in 1998- Giant Slalom and Halfpipe. The Halfpipe, which sees athletes perform tricks in an icy pipe, is still contested today. Australia’s Torah Bright is the reigning female Olympic Halfpipe Champion, while American Shaun White is the back-to-back men’s Champion.
In Snowboard Cross, athletes race for medals in a head-to-head format- picture a BMX race on snow. Australian Alex “Chumpy” Pullin is a double World Champion in this event.
Parallel Giant Slalom, Parallel Slalom and Snowboard Slopestyle are also on the Sochi 2014 program for both sexes. The Parallel Slalom was reintroduced for Sochi and 2014 will also be the first time Snowboard Slopestyle is contested.
Australians have competed in Snowboard at every Olympic Winter Games since the sport’s inception in 1998. Zeke Steggall was Australia’s first competitor, competing in Nagano and also the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, with a best place finish of 26th in Parallel Giant Slalom in 2002.
By the 2006 Games in Torino, Australia showed great depth to qualify nine athletes. Torah Bright produced Australia’s best performance at the time to finish fifth in the Halfpipe. Four years later, Bright built on that form to take gold at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games. The girl from Cooma qualified for the final in first place but crashed out in her first run, earning a mere 5.9 points. Posting the lowest score, Bright was forced to face the pipe first in the second run but produced a crisp run with five near-perfect trick executions, earning her a huge score of 45.00 that won Australia’s first Snowboard medal.
Start lists for Australian athletes will be available as soon as they are allocated. Please note this can be as late as within 24 hours before the scheduled start time of the event. Medal events, regardless of Australian participation, will also be displayed here.
The Parallel Slalom and Parallel Giant Slalom involve two riders racing down the same slope on two parallel courses, outlined with gates and triangular flags, blue on the left course and red on the right course. The setting of the courses, the terrain and snow coverage must be as identical as possible. The different between events is with regard to the distance between each of the gates. In Parallel Giant Slalom, the gates are spaced much further than Parallel Slalom, allowing for much faster speeds.
There are 32 men and 32 women, who can each contest the two events. After two qualifying runs, a 16-person head-to-head competition is established in which riders compete in two side-by-side courses. All Parallel finals heats consist of two runs. The competitors change courses for the second run.
The loser of the first run starts with a time delay, which corresponds to his or her time behind the winner of the first run. A competitor who does not start, does not finish or is disqualified in the first run, starts the second run with the penalty time delay.
Finals consist of 1/8 finals (8 pairs), quarter-finals (4 pairs), semi-finals (2 pairs), consolation rounds 5th–8th (2 pairs), and finals (2 pairs): a small and big final (bronze and gold medal rounds), classifications 5th–6th place, classifications 7th–8th place. The winners of the 1/8 final heats qualify to the quarter-finals. The winners of the quarter-finals qualify to the semi-finals. The winners of the semi-finals qualify to the big final (gold and silver medal). The losers of the semi-finals qualify to the small final (bronze medal).
Snowboard Cross is a fast and furious event that includes manoeuvring down a challenging course with jumps and obstacles. Each course is purpose-built with freestyle-based features such as big table-top jumps, wu-tangs, step-ups, step-downs, rollers and banked turns that provide several opportunities to overtake.
There are 40 men and 24 women in Snowboard Cross. All athletes will complete two seeding runs individually to get their ranking for the head to head racing.
In the men’s events, there are five phases of head to head racing. In the 1/8 finals, there are 5 men, with the top 3 progressing. In each following phase there are 6 men in each race, with the top 3 progressing. The Big Final has 6 men, with the top 3 winning medals.
In the women’s events there are four phases of head to head racing with six athletes in each race. The Big Final has 6 women, with the top 3 winning medals.
Halfpipe events are conducted in a giant, man-made pipe, carved with specialised equipment to create 22-foot deep pipe. One competitor at a time performs a routine of acrobatic jumps, flips, twists and other manoeuvres in a halfpipe. The athletes are judged on overall impression, which takes into account their take-offs, the height they reach above the top of the pipe, and difficulty/ execution of their tricks.
There are three phases of the competition – heats, semi-final and final. Scores do not carry over.
In the heats there are 40 men and 30 women. There are two heats runs with the top 3 men and women in each heat qualifying directly for the finals. Competitors ranked 4th – 9th in each heat advance to the semi-finals. In the semi-finals there are two runs with the top 6 men and women qualifying for the finals.
There are two runs in the final phase. In the first run, competitors go down in the reverse order of their rank (Q2 and then Q1). In the second run, competitors go down in the reverse order of their first final run rank). Each athlete’s top score from the two final runs determines their placing and the medals.
Slopestyle courses feature rails, jibs, hips and a variety of jumps allowing riders to combine big air and technical tricks into one run. Competitors are scored on overall impression which takes into account execution, technical difficulty, style, variety and use of course features.
There are three phases of the competition – qualification, semi-final and final, with athletes taking two runs in each phase with the highest scoring run being counted. Scores do not carry over from qualification to the final.
There are 30 male and 24 female competitors. In the qualification round, the top 8 men and women go straight to the final. The remaining athletes battle it out in the semi-final. In the semi-final, the top 4 advance to the final. In each run, competitors are run in reverse order of their ranking.
Different boards are used across the Snowboard events- Halfpipe requires a wide, flexible board while Alpine boards are stiff and narrow and Snowboard Cross boards are a combination that maximises tolerance and flexibility.
In the late 1970s snowboarders started to “invade” traditional ski resorts, but faced opposition from skiers who tried to exclude the snowboarders from “their” mountains. By the 1990s, however, almost all ski resorts had accepted snowboarding, and the resorts have found the snowboarders to be an excellent source of new revenue.
AOC: The CEO of the Olympic Winter Institute (OWI) Geoff Lipshut will recommend a move to an expanded snowboard cross program for the next four years that will include Belle Brockhoff, Jarryd Hughes and Cam Bolton as well as Alex Pullin.
SNOWBOARD CROSS: Two time World Champion Alex Chumpy Pullin and world number two ranked Jarryd Hughes failed to fire in the rainy conditions at Extreme Park on Day 11 of the Sochi Olympic Winter Games.
SNOWBOARD-CROSS: Racing was postponed on Monday for the men's Snowboard Cross competition due to heavy fog impacting visibility on the course. Racing has been rescheduled until Tuesday morning at 1030am (530pm AEDT). It will be a reduced format with no seeding runs.
SNOWBOARD CROSS: Torah Bright admits that about 18 months ago some people questioned her decision to enter the unique world of Snowboard Cross, but in the event’s Olympic Winter Games final on February 16, she hopes to have the last laugh.