Smooth Sage leaves rivals bemused

Sat Feb 8, 2014 9:32am EST
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By Philip O'Connor

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - American Sage Kotsenburg was a surprise first gold medallist of the Sochi Games in the slopestyle on Saturday when his smooth and creative routine left his rivals bemused.

Kotsenburg eschewed the triple cork most competitors believed was necessary to win the event, leaving the snowboarders who did perform the move scratching their heads.

Asked what the judges rewarded on the day, Sebastien Tourant told reporters curtly: "I don't know, you gotta ask them."

The Canadian had no qualms about finishing outside the medals in ninth place but said that other riders should have fared better.

"I would say a lot of judges normally reward triple corks, now they reward different grabs and flat spin more than triples," he said.

"It's kinda difficult to get what the judges wanted us to do. I think definitely Mark (McMorris) and Staale (Sandbech) did some very good runs that should have scored higher."

McMorris and Sandbech won silver and bronze respectively, but even champion Kotsenburg admitted that either could - and perhaps should - have won.

"On any given day, if you took the contest a couple of days ago or a week ahead, I think Mark or Staale could have even won today," he said.   Continued...