Sage Kotsenburg of the U.S. has delivered a stunning upset today at Rosa Khutor to become the first gold medalist of the 2014 Sochi Olympics and the first Olympic men’s snowboard slopestyle champion.
The 20-year-old, who tweeted his amazement earlier this morning over advancing to the final, scored a 93.50 on his first run that stood up over Norway’s Staale Sandbech (silver, 91.75) and pre-event favorite Mark McMorris of Canada (bronze, 88.75).
He won the last in a series of five Olympic qualifiers last month to punch his ticket to Sochi, and was considered an outside medal contender at best.
But Kotsenburg emerged today to thwart a potential Canadian sweep of the podium that was a true possibility following the injury to Norway’s Torstein Horgmo and the decision by Team USA’s Shaun White to pull out of slopestyle to focus on the half pipe.
According to Olympic historian Bill Mallon, Kotsenburg is the first American to win the opening event of a Winter Olympics since 1952 and the fourth American ever to do so.
McMorris’ teammates, Max Parrot and Sebastien Toutant, finished fifth and ninth respectively.
MEN’S SNOWBOARD SLOPESTYLE – FINAL
1. Sage Kotsenburg (USA), 93.75
2. Staale Sandbech (NOR), 91.75
3. Mark McMorris (CAN), 88.75
4. Sven Thorgren (SWE), 87.50
5. Max Parrot (CAN), 87.25
6. Jamie Nicholls (GBR), 85.50
7. Peetu Piiroinen (FIN), 81.25
8. Yuki Kadono (JPN), 75.75
9. Sebastien Toutant (CAN), 58.50
10. Billy Morgan (GBR), 39.75
11. Roope Tonteri (FIN), 39.00
12. Gjermund Bratten (NOR), 24.75