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Volume 25 No. 6
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Snowboard Big Air Wows Fans, Participants In Olympic Debut

Big air's first qualification round featured flips, impressive landings and even some crashes
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Snowboard big air made its Olympic debut today and caught the "eyes of winter sports fans with the riders' aerial tricks," according to Joo Kyung-don of YONHAP NEWS. The women's qualifying drew 4,300 fans "for their first look" at the event in the Games, which was added to the Olympic program in '15. Big air participants "snowboard down a hill and perform tricks after launching off a giant jump." Riders "attempt to fly higher and further, so that they can perform multiple rotations and various other tricks -- such as flips and grabs -- after their take off." A panel of judges evaluates the "technical difficulty of contestants' tricks, execution, amplitude and landing quality" (YONHAP NEWS, 2/19). In DC, Jerry Brewer notes the snowboarders today "put on a show that participants and many longtime observers hailed as the greatest exhibition that women's big air had ever seen." The day "wasn't a stunning breakthrough simply because the judges gave high marks." It was "more powerful to see the crowd, with many fans who are new to the sport, express wonder at every competitors' trick" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 2/19). The AP's Eddie Pells notes big air's debut "was a hit," and the qualification round "was great to watch." The day was filled with "sunshine, smiles and plenty of sick tricks" (AP, 2/19). The HUFFINGTON POST's Josh Butler writes big air is an "absolute adrenaline rush." The first qualification round "delivered everything expected, from incredible flips, unbelievable landings and even some crashes" (HUFFINGTONPOST.com, 2/19). U.S. snowboarder Jamie Anderson, who qualified sixth, said, "This was the most progressive big-air event I've ever seen or been a part of. And this was just the qualifier. Finals are going to be a really good show" (ESPN.com, 2/19).

THE FUTURE IS NOW: The GLOBE & MAIL's Cathal Kelly writes while ski jumping and big air "share the same basic idea ... they are entirely different viewing experiences." Kelly: "Ski jumping is NASCAR. It's boring and ghoulish. ... Big Air is Formula 1. It's pure skill and daredevilry, with half the danger of a spectacular wreck." Big air is "bonkers to watch ... when the course is running well" (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/19). In N.Y., Victor Mather notes the "name is accurate," as everything "about the event is big." Mather: "The dizzying heights achieved by the snowboarders more than justifies the 'air'" (NYTIMES.com, 2/19).