In December, an unknown 16-year-old Japanese snowboarder showed up to the Oakley Air & Style Beijing, landed his first triple cork in the finals and won. This is what Big Air has come to: Tonight, the same kid is not even in the X Games Big Air contest. Yuki Kadono is an alternate, and has been hitting the Big Air jump all week in hopes that someone would drop out and he'd get his time to shine.
There's no getting around the fact that we are in for a triple cork battle. Mark McMorris has one, Seb Toutant has one, Torstein Horgmo has one switch and last week Maxence Parrot landed one at the O'Neill Evolution. No longer is simply throwing a triple cork enough to win a Big Air contest -- which begs the question: In a battle of the triples, what is it going to take to win?
We called X Games judge Tom Zikas to find out.
"The format is the best of two jumps," Zikas says. "So what it's going to take to stand out is someone spinning a different direction, a cab triple or if Torstein lands his switch triple cork."
This is all well and good, but what about the triple cork variation everyone has -- the triple cork 1440?
"What we look at more is how inverted it actually is," Zikas says. "Some people dip slightly and some people are way more corked, more inverted. That makes a difference to us. How big it is is a factor, how long you hold your grab, getting it clean and huge."
As to whether an X factor trick -- like, for example, if Halldor Helgason lands his signature Lobster Flip (double rodeo with a tweaked Japan grab) -- would be enough to trump a triple cork, Zikas had no comment. Guess we'll have to wait and see.