Sochi Gold Medalist Sage Kotsenburg Might Be Snowboarding's Ryan Lochte
Snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg burst onto the snowboarding scene on Saturday, winning the first Olympic gold medal on the slopestyle course at the Extreme Park in Sochi. And he just might be your next obsession.
His first run earned a winning score of 93.50, with points awarded for his "Holy Crail," a move in which he "rotates 4½ times, grabbing the board behind his back in the process." What is truly incredible is that Kotsenburg apparently had neither planned nor executed the trick, now known as a "1620 Japan Air Mute Grab," before. Instead, he said, "I had no idea I was even going to do a 1620 in my run until three minutes before I dropped. It's kind of what I'm all about." ESPN writes that his move and subsequent win are making snowboarding history: instead of looking more for purely athletic feats of strength, judges will be placing greater weight on artistry and technical precision.
Kotsenburg's win (and lustrous blonde locks) are making waves and they also beg the question: would this have been possible if Shaun White hadn't dropped out of the event to avoid injury? White chose instead to focus on his goal of winning his third straight medal in the halfpipe. Considering the competitive relationship between the two snowboarders brings us to another famous sporting comparison, albeit one that took place in liquid rather than on frozen water. If Shaun White is snowboarding's Michael Phelps, is Kotsenburg its Ryan Lochte? In this video, Kotsenburg speaks from the heart after winning the first gold medal. See any Lochte-esque tendencies?
Boyish enthusiasm? Check.
Used of bro dialect, in the form of "stoked?" Check.
General attractiveness and facial symmetry? Check.
Vapid self-absorption, at least when it comes to interviews? Jury's still out. But for posterity's sake, let's not forget how Lochte handled his surge of fame.
It appears that, while Kotsenburg displays the physical and verbal traits of an archetypal snowboarder, and while he has placed behind Shaun White in competition before, his inner Ryan Lochte is still slumbering in its rhinestone-encrusted lair. Lochte's Twitter feed is sprinkled with a heavy helping of "#jeah," while Kotsenburg's combines excitement for other Olympic athletes with an somewhat bashful record of his move from the semifinals to the finals in slopestyle. He almost seems to be saying, "I feel like I should tweet about this, but don't really want to brag. Hi mom!"
He even shouts out to his fans in his "Look mom, I won!" tweet.
For now, we should all celebrate the fact that Kotsenburg brought home the gold for the United States, as well as the fact that the fame has, as of yet, not entirely gone to his head. But really, who knows? He may be sporting a grill for the next Olympics, and wearing his own perplexing clothing line. At the moment, however, his creativity and effort have paid off, and his "Holy Crail" in his first run helped rocket him to a well-earned gold medal.
Image: Getty Images