The Canadian snowboard team talked a big game coming into the first-ever men's slopestyle competition, but they came up short. In the end, it was a resounding "U-S-A! U-S-A!" chant that broke out at the end of the first medal event of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
When U.S. snowboarding favorite Shaun White dropped out of the slopestyle event to focus on the halfpipe competition, Canadians Max Parrot and Sebastien Toutant criticized the two-time gold medalist by claiming he was withdrawing because he knew he couldn't win, according to Stephanie Myles of Yahoo! Sports Canada.
But after expectations of at the very least two Canadians medaling, only one finished on the podium. Mark McMorris earned the bronze medal behind silver medalist Staale Sandbech of Norway and Sage Kotsenburg of the U.S.
U.S. Snowboarding's official Twitter account reported the news immediately after the final scores were announced:
With the slopestyle event coming to an end Saturday, here are the full results and a look at the three medalists.
|Men's Slopestyle Final Results|
|6||Jamie Nicholls||Great Britain||85.50|
|10||Billy Morgan||Great Britain||39.75|
Sage Kotsenburg, USA
All eyes were on the Canadian team members, but Kotsenburg stole the show.
While most of the men in the final had to rely on their second run to show their full potential, Kotsenburg threw it down on his first ride and came away with the gold medal.
His clean run featured two huge pulls and resulted in the first gold medal in the Winter Olympics. Prior to competing in the event, Kotsenburg appeared shocked just to be in the final, per his Twitter account:
Kotsenburg followed that tweet up with a much more euphoric one after winning the event:
After making the final thanks to a second-place run in the semifinal just to earn a spot, Kotsenburg threw down a clean run as the No. 3 rider and never relinquished the lead.
As the only American in the final event, Kotsenburg held his own and showed humility on the podium by inviting both of the other medalists onto the gold stage, per Kate Pettersen of CBC:
The talk coming into the slopestyle event was that White was afraid of the Canadians. Kotsenburg clearly wasn't fazed.
CNN's Rachel Nichols gives more insight into Kotsenburg:
Staale Sandbech, Norway
Another favorite to medal in the competition, Sandbech pulled off the best run of contenders having to rely on the second leg. The Norwegian's 91.75 was the only other run outside of Kotsenburg's to eclipse the 90-point mark.
While he wasn't competing in the event, White still congratulated each of the competitors, with Sandbech's run being the final of the three:
When the final began, Sandbech pulling off a medal seemed manageable. But with the Norwegian competing just in front of Max Parrot to pull off the feat, it was certainly one of the most clutch performances of the Olympics thus far.
Mark McMorris, Canada
The Canadian nearly missed out on the final after having to get through the semifinal just to compete, like Kotsenburg.
But following the semifinal, McMorris sounded confident about his chances, according to Pettersen:
The two-time X-Games gold medalist in the event came into the Olympics with a broken rib, but he was determined to represent his country. He did finish on the podium, but winning the bronze as the lone Canadian on the stage was a surprise.
Regardless of his finish, Team Canada still tweeted out the final result of their first Olympic medal in Sochi:
While McMorris and his fellow countrymen didn't wind up with the result they wanted, the halfpipe event is still another one they hope to pull out.
The Canadians might have come up well short of their goals in the slopestyle event, but there is still much more to come.
The unfortunate part: This was their chance.
White and the Americans have dominated the halfpipe event in recent Olympics, with the Flying Tomato winning the last two gold medals. In fact, of the 24 medals awarded in the halfpipe competition over four Winter Games, the United States have won 14.
The Canadians have work to do if they want to prevent another American from standing atop the podium when the next round of snowboarding takes place.
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