It’s silver for Sage Kotsenburg at Winter X Games
January 31, 2012
After consecutive less-than-desirable runs, Park City’s Sage Kotsenburg received a wise bit of advice from his brother.
As the 18-year-old snowboarder sat atop the starting gate at the 2012 Winter X Games awaiting his final run in men’s snowboard slopestyle, he took a deep breath.
"I was putting too much pressure on myself," he said. "I wasn’t paying attention on my jumps. On my third jump, my brother told me to take a huge breath at the top and think of nothing.
"He said, ‘Just relax and chill. It’s just X Games.’"
Kotsenburg took his brother’s advice.
The Parkite earned silver in men’s snowboard slopestyle Saturday evening in Aspen, Colo., as he put down his best run of the competition — an 88.00 — finishing second to Canada’s Mark McMorris, whose 93.00 earned him the gold medal.
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ESPN dubbed Kotsenburg’s third go "the run of his life," and he agreed with that assessment.
"I had a couple bobbles, but it was definitely the run of my life," he said. "I could have done it cleaner, though. That’s how good my run was."
Sitting in seventh place prior to his third and final run, Kotsenburg said he had been having trouble with the first of four jumps throughout the entire week of practice leading up to qualifiers. He said he struggled so much with that first jump that he could barely focus on the second and third jumps, and wasn’t even able to practice his tricks on the final jump.
"That first jump was not that big of a jump, but the landing was really flat. I had to go huge on the jump and it was just crushing my legs the way I landed and I could not get to the second jump for my life," he said.
That didn’t matter much.
Kotsenburg’s run included a switch backside doublecork 1080, followed by a cab doublecork 1260. The third jump featured a frontside 1080, while his fourth and final jump was a backside 1260.
In that final rotation, when he finished the final jump he wasn’t even able to practice, he threw his hands in the air in triumph. He had jumped from seventh place to second place and secured X Games silver.
"You just feel so good," he said describing what went through his mind after that final landing. "You always get the most adrenaline rush on the last jump. When you land the first three jumps, you’re so stoked going into the last one. You’re so confident — so confident that you feel like you’ve already landed."
On Dec. 18, in the first Winter Dew Tour Nike Open stop of the 2011-2012 season in Breckenridge, Colo., Kotsenburg was disappointed in a sixth-place score in a performance he considered to be the best of his career.
This time around, he made sure to discuss tricks with the judges and researched how they’d be scoring the slopestyle competition.
"They definitely were on point," he said. "I knew I had to do something really good at X Games."
At the start of his third run, Kotsenburg said, the memories of his first two runs drifted away and he just took a deep breath and went to work.
"I thought to myself, ‘We’ll get this night over and we’ll go celebrate,’" he explained. "If there’s any place to land your best run, it’s at X Games."