If you’re a connoisseur of sports excellence, then you’re probably already a fervent fan of the Olympics. Since the first Summer Olympic Games in 1896 and the Winter Olympics in 1924, we’ve seen an array of tricks and progressions among athletes from all over the world.
Now that the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics have concluded, it’s time to take a retrospective look at the astonishing tricks that were yet again showcased at this year’s Olympics and previous Games. We focus on two sports that are loved by many – skiing and snowboarding – to help you find the inspiration to reach Olympic-style excellence.
Daredevil snowboarding tricks
Snowboarding is one of the most extreme sports in the world that can be taken to a much higher level than a simple trick and a run down the slope. The Winter Olympics are proof of that.
You’re probably familiar with the halfpipe, also called a superpipe. A U-shaped ramp built of snow with walls 22ft/6.7m high is used to propel snowboarders and skiers into the air, where they can perform tricks. The first time snowboarding halfpipe as a sport was introduced in the Olympics was in 1998 in Nagano, Japan, and the gold went to Finnish snowboarder Markus Hurme.
Fast forward to 2010 when American snowboarder Shaun White took the halfpipe to the next level by landing the Double McTwist 1260 at the Vancouver Winter Olympics and grabbing the gold. The move fuses three-and-a-half twists with two flips in one piece, and it’s become White’s signature trick. Another iconic trick of his is the double cork 1440, which won him the gold in the PyeongChang 2018 Games.
Known as “The Flying Tomato”, Shaun White won his first gold at the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics, which he then repeated in 2010 and 2018. The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics marked his retirement, and he finished fourth at the finals. He also has 15 X Winter Games gold medals under his belt.
Shaun White raised the bar for the halfpipe event with the double cork, which was yet again overcome by American snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg who landed a spectacular new trick: a 1620 Japan, or 4 ½ rotations with a behind-the-back board grab. The tricked was named the “Holy Grail” by fans and won him the gold medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
Reaching great heights in skiing
Skiing, just like snowboarding, provides skiers with an avenue to showcase daredevil tricks, especially when competing in the freestyle big air and halfpipe Olympic events.
The first Olympic skier to land a left-turn 1620 at the big air event during the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. And with that, the 18-year-old American-born freestyle skier became the youngest ever Olympic gold medalist in freestyle skiing.
The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing gave many skiers and their tricks a chance to shine too. American Colby Stephenson landed a spectacular switch double cork 1800 and scored 91.25 on his third run of the men’s freeski big air final.
Another American freestyle skier, Alex Hall, who is the first skier to successfully land a double cork 2160 during the 2020 Winter X Games, performed two outstanding tricks at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. One of the tricks is called “switch-cork-7 to butter-switch-5 Japan” and involves a 720-degrees spin while jumping, followed by another jump and a 540-degree spin while grabbing the left ski from the back.
His final jump at the competition was also spectacular. Called “right double 10 pretzel 1”, it involves a 900-degree spin one way and a 180-degree spin the other way midair.
Hall said: “A lot of what we do, we call ‘spin to win,’ and so everyone is spinning as much as they can. To take a new approach and do a trick that has almost no rotation but is still really, really hard — it was really, really sweet.”
Gary Clark, Academy Director of SIA Austria, a ski instructor courses provider, commented: “Skiing provides amazing opportunities for performing astonishing tricks. We see among our students that once they’ve mastered the basics and have practised for a long time, the slopes don’t satiate their thirst for adventure anymore. That’s when they start going on freerides off-piste and spending more time at the snow park. They’re driven by a desire to progress, and tricks become an essential part of their skiing routine. This helps them take their skiing skills to the next level and pass them on.”
While watching the Winter Olympics, we all wished we could reach the sports excellence seen on the screen. But with practice and dedication, we can also reach great heights in skiing and snowboarding. Because the small wins matter too.