Australia and Olympic Snowboard
Australia was represented at the Winter Olympics by Zeke Steggall when snowboarding made its debut at Nagano 1998. Competing in the giant slalom he placed 28th from a field of 34. He went on to represent Australia at Salt Lake City 2002, achieving a place of 26th in Parallel Giant Slalom.
At Torino 2006, Australia greatly increased its snowboard contingent, taking nine athletes. Torah Bright, Holly Crawford, Johanna Shaw and Emily Thomas became Australia's first Olympic female representatives with Bright the best placed finishing fifth in the halfpipe. Damon Hayler was the best placed male, finishing seventh in the snowboard cross.
Vancouver 2010 was Australia’s most successful Winter Olympics and Bright won Australia’s first snowboard medal – gold in the women’s halfpipe. The girl from Cooma qualified for the final in first place but crashed out in her first run, earning a mere 5.9 points. Posting the lowest score, Bright was forced to face the pipe first in the second run but produced a crisp run with five near-perfect trick executions, earning her a huge score of 45.00 that no other rider was able to match.
Snowboard was added to the Olympic program for the first time at Nagano 1998 with giant slalom and halfpipe events for both men and women. At Salt Lake 2002 the alpine event of parallel giant slalom replaced the giant slalom event. Snowboard cross made its Olympic debut at Torino 2006. At the Sochi 2014 Games, parallel slalom was reintroduced as well as snowboard slopestyle.
There are five snowboard events on the Olympic program for men and women.
Parallel Slalom & Parallel Giant Slalom
The parallel slalom and parallel giant slalom involve two riders racing down the same slope on two parallel courses, outlined with gates and triangular flags, blue on the left course and red on the right course. The setting of the courses, the terrain and snow coverage must be as identical as possible.
There are 32 men and 32 women, who can each contest the two events. After two qualifying runs, a 16-person head-to-head competition is established in which riders compete in two side-by-side courses. All parallel finals heats consist of two runs. The competitors change courses for the second run.
The loser of the first run starts with a time delay, which corresponds to his or her time behind the winner of the first run. A competitor, who does not start, does not finish or is disqualified in the first run, starts the second run with the penalty time delay.
Finals consist of 1/8 finals (8 pairs), quarter-finals (4 pairs), semi-finals (2 pairs), consolation rounds 5th–8th (2 pairs), and finals (2 pairs): a small and big final (bronze and gold medal rounds), classifications 5th–6th place, classifications 7th–8th place. The winners of the 1/8 final heats qualify to the quarter-finals. The winners of the quarter-finals qualify to the semi-finals. The winners of the semi-finals qualify to the big final (gold and silver medal). The losers of the semi-finals qualify to the small final (bronze medal).
Snowboard Cross is a fast and furious event that includes manoeuvring down a challenging course with jumps and obstacles. Its name is derived from combining halfpipe and PGS and makes reference to cross-country.
There are 40 men and 24 women in snowboard cross. All athletes will complete two seeding runs (TBC) individually to get their ranking for the head to head racing.
In the men’s events, there are five phases of head to head racing. In the 1/8 finals, there are 5 men, with the top 3 progressing. In each following phase there are 6 men in each race, with the top 3 progressing. The Big Final has 6 men, with the top 3 winning medals.
In the women’s events there are four phases of head to head racing with six athletes in each race. The Big Final has 6 women, with the top 3 winning medals.
One competitor at a time performs a routine of acrobatic jumps, flips, twists and other manoeuvres on a halfpipe. The athletes are judged on their take-offs, the height they reach above the top of the pipe, and difficulty/ execution of their tricks.
There are three phases of the competition – heats, semi-final and final. Scores do not carry over.
In the qualification phase there are 40 men and 30 women. There are two qualification runs with the top 3 men and women in each heat qualifying directly for the finals. Competitors ranked 4th – 9th in each heat advance to the semi-finals. In the semi-finals there are two runs with the top 6 men and women qualifying for the finals.
There are two runs in the final phase. In the first run, competitors go down in the reverse order of their rank (Q2 and then Q1). In the second run, competitors go down in the reverse order of their first final run rank). Each athlete’s top score from the two final runs determines their placing and the medals.
Slopestyle courses feature rails, jibs, hips and a variety of jumps allowing skiers to combine big air and technical tricks into one run. Competitors are scored in an overall impression judging format on amplitude, execution, difficulty of line, landing and use of the course.
There are two phases of the competition – qualification and final. Scores do not carry over from qualification to the final.
In snowboard slopestyle there are 30 male and 24 female competitors. In the qualification round, the top 8 men and women go straight to the final. The remaining athletes battle it out in the semi-final. In the semi-final, the top 4 advance to the final. In the final there are 12 competitors with the top three results being awarded the medals.