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In the end, Joss Christensen could only throw his head back and smile. He watched as 11 competitors rode their second and final run of the Slopestyle finals, and one after another, they couldn’t match him. His first run, highlighted by a beautiful switch triple cork 1260 – the only of the competition – resulted in an insurmountable score (95.80). Big name after big name tried, but failed. And the last skier standing, the one who would get the victory lap, was the one who almost didn’t even make the trip to Sochi.
Everyone had the same canvas on which to work. Many were critical of the Halfpipe conditions in Sochi, but that didn’t seem to bother Ayumu Hirano. As the sport has come to expect from the 15-year-old Japanese wunderkind, his amplitude was greater and his tricks more technical and stylish. And as a result, he won an Olympic silver medal. His fellow countryman, Taku Hiraoka won the bronze medal.
In Vancouver fours years ago, Alex Bilodeau rallied his countrymen by winning the first gold medal for Canada at those Games. This year in Sochi, Bilodeau was equally as disruptive, becoming the first freestyle skier to medal in consecutive Olympics after defending his moguls title.