Slopestyle Snowboarding Competition
US Riders Sage Kotsenburg and Jamie Anderson take the Gold medals at the first Olympic Slopestyle. Amazing.
Jr World Championships Slopestyle Course - Valmalenco, Italy
What is it?
Slopestyle Snowboarding Competition is one of the most popular and highly participated in events in snowboarding. It's funny that the first Slopestyles events were only about 15 years ago. Before that the closest thing to a SlopeStyle was the occasional big air event or maybe a rail-jam once in a while.
Today, there are many Slopestyle events all across the country. Most Slopestyle events are held within a resorts terrain park and are basically a freestyle skills contest.
What does the competition venue consist of?
The Slopestyle Snowboarding Competition venue consists of a variety of features and components:
- Temporary fence around the venue to provide closure to the public
- Jump Features – Table Tops, Step Downs, a Hip or a Quarterpipe
- Rail Features – Rail slides, Box Slides, a Hitching Post or other type of stall features
- Most events consist of 2 or 3 jump features and 2 or 3 sets of rails to choose from. A set of rails may include 2 or 3 different slide type features next to each other so that the rider must choose which to use in their run.
- Judges Stand – Where the Judges will post up with a view of the whole course. Sometimes it takes a couple of Judging stations spaced out on a course. In this case the judges commonly slit duties and just focus on the features they can easily see.
- Scoreboard – Usually a scoreboard is setup at the bottom of a Slopestyle course so that riders and coaches can get a feel for the scoring and where they stand during the event. At many higher level event a race staff person will also be on the radio with judging and be posting to a scoreboard at the top of the course.
- Jump Spotters – To let riders and staff know that jump landings are clear and be the safety police on the course. This is greatly needed during practice when many riders are on course at once. They also look for problems with take-offs, landings and the space in between, hopefully providing a smooth course to all competitors.
How do you win, or lose?
Most often the event is made up of a practice session, followed by the entire field taking 2 judged runs. The best score of the 2 runs will be used for ranking. In bigger events, there may be a cut performed to select finalist to compete in a second round final. The biggest events, like the US OPEN or the X-Games require a couple rounds of cuts.
A panel of 3 to 5 judges, judge skills and creativity on a 1-10 or 1-100 scale. The riders score is the sum of the judges scores. Judges score each rider based on:
- Flow – How fluid is the rider in line choice, execution of maneuvers, landing and movement through the course.
- Creativity – How well does the rider make creative / artistic use of the course
- Technical difficulty – How hard are the moves and how well are they being performed.
- Style – The most hard to describe, but the most important.
Keys to Competing Well -
The key to competing well in Slopestyle Snowboarding Competition is about making use of the course as a painter would a canvas. With well thought out preparation and precision execution the rider will flow from trick to trick and make it look smooth and effortless. Ways to ensure the best score-
- Hit the sweet spot in the landings. Go big, but not too big.
- Try to pick the most difficult tricks you can do comfortably on the features to choose from. Don’t go for the new or the hardest trick in your bag unless you are incredibly confident. It is usually better to do the tricks you can do well, as good as you can.
- Make sure and put good energy into every feature, jump or jib all the way down. Don’t nail a couple big jump tricks, then go half ass the rails or vice versa.
- Try to spin both ways, taking off forward and switch. This demonstrates a higher level of skill and the judges will respond.
- Make sure your body language is positive even if it’s not what you meant to do. Act like, yeah that was dope right, even if it was a 5 instead of a 7, and be ready to adapt and change the game plan during your run if you have to.
- MAKE IT STYLING AND SMOOTH
Most Important Events -
The most important events in the Slopestyle Snowboarding Competition world are mainly the X Games, the US Open and now The Olympics. There are other important events like the TTR World Tour, European and Japanese Big Air events like the Innsbruck Air & Style, and like the now extinct Honda Sessions event at Vail. The Sessions, with massive jumps and the best in the world in attendance, saw some of the most incredible runs ever in competition. Some with a variety of 9s and beyond that, 3 different 1080’s in one run. Dang!!
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