A new generation of snowboard stars made their mark on history and slopestyle made its Olympic debut at the Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games.
The events started 15 January with the first snowboarding gold medal of the Games going to ladies’ halfpipe champion Hikaru Ohe (JPN).
The 16-year-old's score of 96.25 earned her gold over silver medallist Arielle Gold’s (USA) 90.00 and bronze medallist Lucile Lefevre’s (FRA) 82.25.
Ohe then set her sights on the men's competition.
“Actually I want to get above [the ladies’ traditional Olympic] level and get to the same level as the men,” she said.
To do so, she would have to ride with men's halfpipe gold medallist Ben Ferguson (USA), whose gold-medal-winning performance proved he will be a name in snowboarding for many years to come.
Ferguson won with high amplitude and smooth manoeuvres to earn a score of 93.25 points. Tim-Kevin Ravnjak (SLO) took silver with a score of 86.75 and bronze went to Taku Hiraoka (JPN) with a score of 84.25.
It was the first time the American had beaten the well-known junior stars from Slovenia and Japan, and the first time he has won a major event.
Podium appearances seem to suit Ferguson. He made another, one day later at the 19 January debut of slopestyle on the Olympic programme.
Ferguson looked poised to take his second gold as the slopestyle competition neared its end, and only Michael Ciccarelli’s (CAN) second and final run remained.
With nothing to lose, Ciccarelli stomped an absolutely massive backside 1080 double-cork on the final kicker in what was clearly the most remarkable air of the day.
The magnificent finish gave Ciccarelli the gold medal with a score of 94.25, ahead of Ferguson’s silver-medal performance of 90.25 and bronze medallist David Habluetzel’s (SUI) 87.50.
A gold-medal performance was given by Audrey McManiman (CAN) at the snowboard ladies’ slopestyle final. Her score of 84.25 was enough for gold ahead of Arielle Gold’s (USA) 71.75 and Alexandra Fitch’s (AUS) 69.75.
Gold’s podium means she returns to her Colorado home with two silver medals.
The historic day of slopestyle came one day early. The medal-round competitions were originally scheduled for 20 January, but the final was moved to 19 January when forecasts predicted high winds.
Snowboard will feature two events: half pipe and, for the first time ever at an Olympic event, snowboard slopestyle.
Snowboarders ride the half pipe going from one side to the other, performing tricks while in the air. The half pipe is scored by judges, with one overall impression score based on the following criteria: execution of tricks, variety of tricks, difficulty, pipe use and amplitude.
Men's Halfpipe Finals - Results - Medallists
Women's Halfpipe Finals - Results - Medallists
Riders compete on a terrain park featuring various jumps, rails and other obstacles which they use to perform tricks and get big air! Riders are free to select their own line depending on their technical ability and creativity. A panel of judges awards points depending on the technical difficulty of the manoeuvres and other factors, including style and the height of the jumps performed.
Men's Slopestyle Finals - Results - Medalists
Women's Slopestyle Finals - Results - Medalists