Park City resident Sage Kotsenburg wins Sochi's first gold medal in snowboard slopestyle
“Park City has put in so much time and effort to create the kind of training ground there, that I actually am not surprised to see the results here,” she said. “Because Sage has been training in the best terrain in the states in Park City for years now.”
Kotsenburg said watching the U.S. men sweep the snowboard halfpipe on his home course in the 2002 games fueled his passion for the sport.
“That was huge,” he said of watching the games in Utah. “That kind of got me more stoked on snowboarding, to see it as a global sport.”
Kotsenburg said the victory genuinely shocked him because, well, he hasn’t spent a lot of time on top of the podium.
“I had a mega drought there,” he said smiling. “I won a couple of weeks ago and before that the last time I won was nine years ago. And then coming in here and winning, I can’t even describe the feeling. It’s so cool.”
Kotsenburg, who was actually the Dew Tour's overall champ in 2011, said that being an underdog allowed him some breathing room in a final that featured plenty of triple flips.
“Once I got into finals, I could let it ride,” he said. “The level of riding today was pretty crazy. Seeing everyone ride was insane — everyone was doing triples and 14s and 1620s. It’s pretty unreal. I think these guys could have won on any given day, but it was my day today.”
As much as he wanted to relax and treat the Olympics like any other competition, he said that wasn't entirely possible.
“I’m not in snowboarding to win everything, but we’re not here to get third or fourth or fifth either,” he said. “We’re here to get a gold medal, especially to bring it home to your country. It’s such an honor to be at this place, to represent your country like that. You know, it’s not just for you, you’re representing everyone who’s back home cheering for you. Everyone back home helps more than they know.”
And Street hopes Kotsenburg’s success on sport’s largest stage inspires young boarders back home.
“I think it’s going to be neat that he’s going to bring (the medal) back home to Park City,” she said. “To all of the kids who’ve sat and watched him and been in the park with him, and are like, ‘I’ve ridden with him.’ It just makes that much more touchability with the sport.”
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