On Friday, March 22, 2013, Iouri Podladtchikov landed a trick during the X Games Tignes Men's SuperPipe finals that no one had ever thought to do before, much less attempted and ridden away from clean. Unfortunately, the trick, a switch frontside 1440 -- better known now as the "YOLO flip" -- was not the last one in his run.
Having finally landed the YOLO, a goal he had been aiming for since X Games Aspen, I-Pod came into his final hit hot, chucked a double cork 10, crashed spectacularly and missed the podium by one spot. Judging by the deafening sounds of the crowd, no one seemed to care where he placed, including Podladtchikov himself.
We caught up with him afterward to ask what it felt like to be "the first" to do something as huge as a new halfpipe trick that not even Shaun White knows how to do yet. Here's what he had to say.
When I was asked during practice if people were going to see the trick, I was not even close to ready to throw a regular run at that point. The light was so flat, you couldn't even ride 100 percent in practice to get ready. We were all going so low and slow because you couldn't see anything.
And then everything turned blue. The sky cleared, it got warmer. I knew they were going to get that snow out of the pipe and it was going to be solid and perfect. But when it actually happens ...
To explain that to someone who has never done something that no one has ever done before is weird. It has to be the right moment. You're not going to risk your life on a regular day. It has to be THE day. Because I'd only tried the trick twice -- in Aspen, and that was a long time ago, and once after.
But this contest ... my first run rolled the way I wanted, but in my opinion it was completely underscored. Never in my life would I have thought that run was an 82. If I hadn't been in a good mood and ready to try my new trick one more time ...
The most horrible moment of my competitive snowboard life was at the U.S. Open this year. I threw one of the bigger alley-oop back rodeos, perfectly, stomped. An alley-oop spin -- ask Shaun [White] or anyone -- it's so much harder and risky because you're spinning UP the pipe, not down. And if you do it high, you do it proper, and it gets scored lower than a small frontside 540, which is the easiest trick in halfpipe snowboarding -- which is what happened there -- it's a joke. The judges are sleeping.
I never, ever say anything about judging, but that completely threw a bomb in my coolness. I quit after that. And then this contest, my 82 was the same kind of bad situation. I was just going to call it. I was like, What am I even doing here?
Basically, you just decide that it's all about this, right now, this moment. Obviously they want to see this new trick, but it's not for them. It's not for the judges. It's for yourself. So one minute before my run I switched from going to do the back double cork to being like, "You know what? F--- you guys. This competition structure doesn't even make sense any more. This is all for me. I'm just going to go for it." That's why it's called the YOLO.
The most exciting thing is that it happened so easy. I knew it was there. But after, my brain just died. I was just hoping to get back into the pipe on that next double cork, but I already knew it wasn't going to happen. But it's funny -- you do that crazy trick, you land it perfect and then you're like, what do I do now? Your engine just shuts off. It was a crazy moment. In the air I was fighting, and then boom boom boom, crash, and it's over.
But I felt like I could have landed on my head and nothing would have killed me. It was the greatest feeling ever.
Obviously we all want to beat Shaun White, but right now I feel closer than most. The only way to beat Shaun is to either have his tricks and go as big, or have more tricks and try to go as big. You have to have some strategy.
It's so stupid how they're commentating. Even if some kid is going so big, or someone is doing seven doubles in his run, it doesn't compare to what Shaun's doing. You have to look at your competition, to see what's missing in your run and try to add whatever you can do best to make it happen. This is my approach.
I actually tried this trick years ago and decided that it was not possible. I tried it in an airbag like 10 times and always landed on my back. I could not bring it back to my feet because the end rotation is off axis. It's such a big rotation, either you understand it or you'll never be able to do it. You can't learn it. Your brain has to understand it. And you have to obviously know use your snowboard, not just know acrobatics.
To call tricks "Cab" in snowboarding, we should all be ashamed of ourselves. Cab is Steve Caballero, it's skateboarding -- we have our boards strapped to our feet, so to call it Cab in snowboarding is just wrong, and we should all shut up about it. So it's not a Cab 1440, it's switch frontside.
It doesn't look like a 1440 but it is. It's two flips and two full rotations, which makes it four rotations, which is 1440. The final rotation is mixed into two flips. It looks easy, but it's not. Double corks also look easy, but they're not. This trick is like you're doing a double cork, but in the middle of the flip you cut it into a spin and look for the landing.
I remember people asking Louie [Vito] how to do a double cork. And he said, "Well, you kind of lean in one direction and you stick to it." And that's the best description ever. You're leaning in one direction and you really have to commit to it, because if in the middle you decide to look some other way you're going to lose it.
So double cork you lean one way and you stay that way, and then you put your feet down. With this trick, you're looking one way and then in the middle you just look left and cut your trick in half. Like, "Oh, a pretty girl!" and boom, you snap your head to the side to look that way. It's hard to explain. I don't see much. In the beginning I see a little bit and then from the moment I cut it to the moment I see the landing I'm just ... YOLO.
Nobody says YOLO anymore because it's so "last year." But that's why it's so funny! I thought of the name in Aspen watching Big Air at the X Games, because everybody was going so bananas. I don't know any better expression. Halldor overflipped a triple backflip, McMorris and Torstein were going nuts.
We were all sitting in front of the TV watching those guys calling them the YOLO brothers because they were just sending it. Obviously they were in control, but it just looked like they were completely out of their minds.
That moment, in Big Air, was so underrated. It was the best sports event I've ever seen on TV. As a part of X Games I wanted to be part of that movement, of just going nuts and trying something new. I felt privileged to be trying that trick, and that's really where the name for it came from -- from the Big Air YOLO brothers.
And the fact that I landed on my last run. There is no price on that tag. It's the moment. That means the most to me, that moment. It was just like those guys: picture perfect -- for me at least. I wish I would have some kind of buddy who would be trying something as crazy at that moment, but at the same time, it's nice to have your own moment.
I would have loved to get gold, but I wouldn't swap my YOLO for it. I wouldn't. ... It was the best fourth place ever.