Before Saturday’s snowboard big air remaining, Kyle Mack had by no means landed a frontside double cork 1440 with a double tail seize (also referred to as a bloody Dracula). He had tried the trick a few occasions in observe and taken a couple of memorable slams. One yr in the past, on the Olympic big air take a look at occasion, he landed a model of the trick for the primary time in competitors — a frontside double cork 1080 bloody Dracula — which he started including to his snowboard slopestyle runs. But Mack knew he wanted so as to add one other spin if he wished a shot at being one of many first medalists in big air, an occasion that was debuting on the Pyeongchang Games.
“I was at the top [of the jump] contemplating whether I should do the bloody 14 or just do a tail grab,” Mack mentioned. “But bringing style into snowboarding is the thing I’ve always worked on. Big air has always been one of the most progressive events for snowboarding, but I wish it was more about style and grabs and the technical stuff. That’s something I want to keep fighting for. Before I dropped in for my second run, I was like, I’m doing this for snowboarding.”
In his first run, Mack landed a bottom triple cork 1440 with a Japan seize and scored an 82, which put him in fourth after the preliminary runs had been accomplished. Because riders are given three runs to land two completely different methods, one fall can drive a rider to vary up his technique. Mack knew he had extra constant methods in his repertoire that he may try on his second run, however he additionally wished to do one thing to set himself other than his friends. Mack is a proficient athlete with the power to push the development of his sport, however he additionally cares that as snowboarding methods progress, they preserve a component of fashion.
“Ever since I saw Nils Mindnich do that grab, I thought it was such a sick trick,” Mack mentioned of the bloody Dracula. “Since I started doing it, it’s gotten more hype and people have realized how hard it is to do the trick and the grab together. I was stoked it all came together today. It was mind-blowing. As I was riding down the landing, I was like, ‘Wow, I did it.’ I’m so stoked to show everyone what I can do.”
Mack’s silver medal might need been a win for snowboarding, however snowboarding has been a shiny spot for the United States. Four of Team USA’s 9 gold medals and seven of its 23 total medals have been gained by snowboarders. Throw within the freeskiing crew, and 5 of 9 gold medals and half of all the American medals have been gained by the U.S. snowboard and freeski groups.
“These sports really cater to creativity and doing things differently than everybody else,” mentioned ski halfpipe gold medalist David Wise. “As Americans, we have rebel in our blood. That’s who we are. It defines us as a culture. We had a really strong group of four American skiers in halfpipe, and our runs looked completely different. That’s why we’re so strong.”
And whereas it’s no shock the U.S. has carried out so properly in snowboarding and freeskiing in Pyeongchang, that does not imply it was a straightforward process. And at every Olympics, it solely turns into tougher to do.
“Every year, it gets harder and harder to stay on top,” mentioned U.S. snowboard and freeskiing head coach Mike Jankowski. “There are more and more nations putting a ton of funding and effort into these sports, and it takes every bit of everything to stay on top. Everybody’s coming for us. We’ve got targets on our back, but we like it that way.”
Jankowski is aware of it will solely be tougher for his athletes 4 years from now, however his athletes are up for the problem.
“I’m super-stoked at how we’re all doing,” Mack mentioned. “We have such a strong team, and we’re all still so young and have so much time to progress. I expect to see us back at the next Olympics still going strong.”