The first gold medal awarded at the 2014 Winter Olympics went to Team USA's Sage Kotsenburg, who in an unexpected turn of events won the inaugural run of the men's snowboard slopestyle event at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park in Sochi, Russia on Feb. 8. Norway's Staale Sandbech claimed the silver, while Canadian Mark McMorris rebounded from a tough qualification round to win the bronze.
Although several members of the 12-rider field, including pre-event favorites McMorris and Max Parrot of Canada, struggled during the first run on the oft-criticized course, Kotsenburg rode third and delivered a sterling performance that snagged him an impressive 93.50 and a quick lead.
Kotsenburg's first score held up throughout the rest of the competition, threatened only by Sandbech's gleaming silver medal run that earned him a mark of 91.75. With the win hanging in the balance, Parrot was the final rider ride to run the course. Although he delivered a clean performance, the judges awarded him just 87.25 points, good enough for just fifth place.
Kotsenburg's teammates Ryan Stassel and Chas Gulemand, who did not compete in the medal round event, finished 14th and 15th, respectively.
The inaugural Olympic women's slopestyle event final at the 2014 Winter Games is scheduled to take place Feb. 9 at 1:15 AM Pacific time.