Winter Olympics 2022 - Highlights in Snowboarding
Snowboard Expert Shane H. recaps the riders on the podium and the most impressive performances during the 2022 Winter Games.
Genting Snow Park, near Beijing, hosted most of the snowboarding action during the 2022 Winter Olympics. In an area known for its natural lack of yearly snowfall, China was able to build a winter wonderland. The Slopestyle course was a highly detailed work of art while the Halfpipe was clean and fast.
Fifteen nations added to their total medal count by picking up hardware in at least one snowboarding discipline. Team USA put on an impressive show in a multitude of events, coming away tied with nordic powerhouse Austria for first place overall. Somewhat surprisingly, it was two countries not known for snowboarding that dominated the skies. A hometown hero from China and an up-and-coming Kiwi proved that they could defeat top-tier riders who were born on the snow.
The 2022 Winter Olympics had everything a snowboard fan could hope for. From Cinderella stories to epic battles and insane judging controversies, fans saw every element that makes snowboarding so entertaining.
The Men’s Slopestyle final delivered all the action and drama one could expect. Three riders from Team USA punched through the qualifier rounds but ultimately came up short. Red Gerrard (USA) put down an impressive first run that had him sitting in third throughout the competition but got edged out of medal contention by failing to improve upon his initial score.
In an inspiring story of perseverance, Canada’s Max Parrot clinched victory with a well-executed run after battling cancer for the past several years. Max announced his return to good health by showing his technical skills in the rail section followed by a cab 1620, backside 1440, and frontside 1620 on the bottom jumps. His was the only score in the event to exceed 90 points at 90.96, and he added a gold to his 2018 silver.
Fellow Canadian Mark McMorris threw down a nearly flawless run that mirrored his gold-medal X Games run from this year but only merited bronze at the Olympics. McMorris was seemingly disappointed with the judges’ score of 88.53 but walked away with his third consecutive Olympic medal.
Su Yiming (CHN) put on an impressive show for the host country, claiming silver and the first-ever Olympic medal in snowboarding for China. The 17-year-old’s creativity in the rail section—along with a cab 1440 and a pair of 1620s on the jumps—earned him an 88.70, nearly catching Max Parrot. Yiming’s showing proudly announced China’s entry into the upper echelon of snowboarding. With a bit of refinement, this young rider will surely be on the podium again.
The women’s Slopestyle competition was the Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (NZL) show. Her impressive, highly technical run earned gold and asserted that she is the new Queen of snowboarding. However, after posting a first run that would have medaled, Zoi faltered on her second run, potentially leaving the door open to her competitors.
It was Julia Marino (USA) who was breathing down Zoi’s neck, not Jamie Anderson (USA) as many expected. Anderson just couldn’t seem to find her rhythm during the finals, but Marino stepped up in a big way, scoring an 87.68 on her second run. That run showcased her impressive rail prowess, a perfect cab double 9, and a beautiful corked 1080. Marino snatched the lead away from Zoi Sadowski-Synnott and held it until the Kiwi’s final run.
Sitting in second, Sadowski-Synnott elevated her game by cleaning up her run which scored a 92.88, rocketing her to the top of the podium. Ever smooth on the rail line, and improving on the jumps, Zoi’s final trick was a huge cab 1080 that nearly cleared the landing zone.
Julia Marino and bronze medalist Tess Coady (AUS) awaited Zoi at the bottom, having already completed their runs. Instead of being downtrodden, the two competitors cheered Zoi’s amazing run and piled on top of her in celebration. It was a touching show of comradery not often seen in elite competition, highlighting the tight-knit community that makes snowboarding so rad!
Japanese brothers Ayumu and Kaishu Hirano stole the show during the men’s Halfpipe final. Younger brother Kaishu went massive on each of his opening tricks, increasing his height with each run. He set the world record for highest trick ever landed in competition with a method-air measuring 24.4’ above the Halfpipe’s deck. He was rumored to have bumped a low-Earth-orbit satellite during his final run but couldn’t stomp the rest of his tricks. He finished in ninth but won the consolation prize of getting into the pages of the Guinness Book of World Records.
After winning silver at two previous Olympics, Kaishu’s brother Ayumu was intent on winning his first gold. He was also intent on stomping the most difficult run, which he handily did by being the first rider in history to land a triple cork rotation. In each of his runs, Ayumu opened with the triple cork, followed by a pair of 1440s and 1260s. After a fall during his first run, Ayumu kept on his feet throughout his second in what announcer Todd Richardson called “the most difficult run in the history of Halfpipe.”
The judges did not agree, however, giving Ayumu a 91.75, which was just shy of Scotty James’ (AUS) first-place score of 92.50. While James’ run was extremely difficult, landing double corks and stylish 1440s, the scoring left the announcers and audience at home shocked.
As a former Olympian, multi-time U.S. Open Champion, and X Games Gold Medalist, announcer Todd Richardson has the pedigree to make accurate calls about Halfpipe runs. He was stunned by Ayumu’s second-run score not topping James’ run. “The judges just grenaded their credibility,” Richards said during an incredible rant. He predicted the run would score in the high 90s and couldn’t understand how the judges gave Ayumu such a low score.
“I know the ingredients of a winning run. I know when I see the best run that’s ever been done in a halfpipe. Try to tell me where you’re deducting from this run. It’s unbelievable that this is even happening. It’s a travesty, to be completely honest with you. I am irate right now,” said Richardson.
But Ayumu wasn’t done. He came from behind in epic fashion, to nail down a third run that eclipsed his second. His triple cork was bigger, his landings cleaner, and he held his grabs even longer during his whirlwind spins. The judges thankfully rectified their previous scoring error, giving Ayumu a 96.00 and his first Olympic gold.
There was nothing but love from the rest of the competitors who all recognized how truly epic Ayumu’s runs were. While he didn’t land on the podium in his final Olympic appearance, Shaun White (USA) saluted the gold medalist, "I'm so happy for Ayumu, to watch him nail that run. Incredible," White said. "That was the run of a lifetime for him and to nail it, I'm so proud for him…I feel it for Scotty, I know he's happy with second, but I know he wanted gold."
Each finalist acknowledged the huge impact of White over the years. Bronze medalist Jan Scherrer (SUI) said, "Everyone else who was riding today grew up looking up to him as a huge idol. When I was 15, he was just so much better than everyone else, and I feel he was probably the most dominant snowboard character in competition ever."
Rejuvenated after taking time off between Olympic Games, Chloe Kim of the U.S. successfully defended her Halfpipe Gold to become the event's first-ever repeat champion and multi-title winner. In comparison to the other riders, Chloe appeared to be lightyears ahead of the competition. In her first run, she stomped a huge method air to open, followed by a pair of 1080s, a switch backside 540, and a beautiful cab 9. That run earned her a 94.00 and lots of breathing room, with the rest of the competition just fighting to stay on their feet.
Spain’s Queralt Castellet put in a valiant effort. She was the only other rider to score above 90 points and seems to be nipping at Chole’s heels in trick progression. Castellet threw down back-to-back 900s, earning Spain its best Winter Games finish since 1972. Reigning X Games Champion Sena Tomita rounded out the podium with a bronze medal for Japan.
Chloe Kim seems to have the Halfpipe locked down. If she’s in a contest, it’s a good bet that she’ll come out on top. Currently 21 years young, we can expect Kim’s dominance for years to come. If she can stay healthy and injury-free, there’s little doubt we’ll see her at the top of the Olympic podium again.
Su Yiming was the breakout star at the 2022 Winter Olympics. After securing a silver medal in Slopestyle, Yiming stepped up his game in Big Air to walk away with gold. His scoring runs were both triple cork 1800s—half a spin more than most of the other competitors were landing. Reports point to Yiming training at the site for several months and with the local crowd cheering him on, the home-field advantage was undeniable.
Silver medalist Mons Roisland (NOR) threw down a smooth 1800 and a backside melon 1620 to secure his spot on the podium. Max Parrot (CAN) scooped an additional bronze in this event to add to his gold in Slopestyle.
American Chris Corning landed one of the most impressive single runs in the finals but couldn’t add a backup score to get him into medal contention. He landed the first (and only) quad cork rotation in Olympic history, earning him a 92.00. Corning couldn’t put down a clean second run and ended up placing seventh.
Red Gerard placed the highest for Team USA with a fifth-place finish. Both Gerrard and Corning were disappointed by not winning medals, but they remain positive and are young enough that it’s unlikely to be their final Olympics. Always the positive influence, Corning said "I had a great time…the big air jump is world-class, it's the best one we've ever hit that's in the city. I couldn't be happier of coming here and putting all my tricks down to the best that I could do them, and that's all I can ask for." With an inordinate amount of controversial scoring during the Olympic snowboarding competitions, Corning’s classy attitude is a great example for young snowboarders to follow.
Anna Gasser (AUT) defended her Olympic title after an epic duel with Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (NZL). Gasser stomped a cab double cork 1260 on her final attempt while Sadowski-Synnott slid out on the landing. The standard trick being thrown by most competitors was of the 1080 variety, with 1260s being the cutoff point for medalists. Kokomo Murase (JPN) landed two high-scoring runs to secure the bronze. With this win, Sadowski-Synnott completed a medal trifecta, having earned a bronze in the previous Winter Olympics combined with the gold she won this year in Slopestyle.
A nose. Specifically, a snowboard nose, which is what determined the winner in the men’s Snowcross final. In what turned out to be a photo finish, Austria’s Alessandro Hämmerle inched out a victory over Eliot Grondin (CAN). Grondin held the lead through much of the course but was passed by the Austrian on the bottom third of the course. Hämmerle didn’t look back after taking the inside track and Grondin’s attempts to overtake the leader almost worked. After landing side by side on the last jump, both riders straight-lined to the finish line where Grondin pushed his board forward to gain the advantage but slid out. The resulting fall carried him over the finish line but slowed him down just enough to get edged out of winning gold. During the live broadcast, it was impossible to tell which rider won. The replay and photo finish showed Hämmerle literally winning by a nose.
Photo finish at the Men's #Snowboard Cross.— Getty Images Sport (@GettySport) February 10, 2022
The moment where Alessandro Haemmerle of #TeamAustria 🇦🇹 takes #gold in the Men's #Snowboard Cross over Eliot Grondin of #TeamCanada #Beijing2022 #Olympics #StrongerTogether
📸: @cliverose pic.twitter.com/JgKvE2uk5B
Redemption. That’s what the women’s Snowboard Cross final meant for Lindsey Jacobellis (USA). Fifteen years after having the gold slip through her fingers, Jacobellis’ journey has come full circle. In one of the worst Olympic blunders of all time, the then 20-year-old was out to an uncatchable lead during the 2006 Snowcross final but fell attempting a celebratory grab over the penultimate jump. With time has come experience and maturity for Jacobellis, whose fifth Olympics appearance earned not only her gold but Team USA’s first Gold in 2022.
In the final’s run, she looked calm, cool, and collected, leading the pack throughout most of the race. Crossing the finish line first allowed Jacobellis to finally shed the demons of her past and put an exclamation point on an already impressive career. As the oldest snowboarding medalist in Olympic history, many have speculated that this will be Jacobellis’ final appearance but that remains to be seen. The world has learned to never count Lindsey Jacobellis out.
Lindsey Jacobellis wasn’t content with one gold medal. Her winning mojo rubbed off on teammate Nick Baumgartner, allowing them to claim victory in the first-ever Mixed Snowcross Olympic event. Baumgartner suffered a heartbreaking quarterfinal defeat in the men’s event and was ecstatic to have a shot at redemption.
"These tears are so much better than the ones from the other day," he said. "It’s days like that when you’re bummed out and you’re disappointed that make days like today so amazing. That’s why when you have that adversity, you can’t quit. You keep going because the good things are coming."
Jacobellis and Baumgartner are the oldest athletes on Team USA at 36 and 40 respectively. Their combined experience paid off, squeaking out a victory by .20 seconds over silver medalists Omar Visintin and Michela Moioli from Italy. The Canadian team rounded out the podium, giving Eliot Grondin and Meryeta Odine each a pair of Olympic medals. The event was fast-paced and exciting. Let’s hope Jacobellis and Baumgartner team up again in future races!
Parallel Giant Slalom
The men’s Parallel Giant Slalom final saw a host of experienced Olympians vying for the title. Defending champion and three-time Olympian Victor Wild (ROC) came in as the favorite but couldn’t keep it together to make the Big Final. Wild settled for bronze and sat by, watching the gold medal race between Tim Mastnak (SLO) and Benjamin Karl (AUT). In an exciting sprint to the bottom, Mastnak held a substantial lead over Karl. It seemed to be an inevitable victory for the Slovenian, but he faltered near the end, ultimately earning silver. With this victory, Karl joined an elite group claiming a trifecta in Olympic medals. He now has a gold, silver, and bronze in PGS.
Ester Ledecká (CZE) successfully defended her gold medal, making her the first woman to win back-to-back golds in PGS. This gave her three gold medals, the other coming from alpine skiing in the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang.
The renaissance woman faced tough competition in the Big Final, riding against Austrian Daniela Ulbing. Ledecká led from the start and crossed the line ahead of Ulbing, who was later ruled a DNF, though she still takes home the silver. In the Small Final Gloria Kotnik (SLO) outpaced Michelle Dekker from the Netherlands. Kotnik took home bronze, her first Olympic medal.
The Big Picture
In the ranking, Team USA tied for first with Austria in the snowboarding disciplines. Each country walked away with three golds and one silver. It was Canada who walked away with the most hardware though, earning a gold, a silver, and four bronze medals.
Snowboarding at the 2022 Winter Olympics featured Shaun White's last ride, Ayumu Hirano’s best Halfpipe run in history, Chloe Kim returning from a hiatus to defend her title, and Lindsey Jacobellis vanquishing past demons by winning not one, but two Olympic golds.
The world has been put on notice that China is invested in the future of snowboarding, with 17-year-old Su Yiming blasting to the podium in Slopestyle and Big Air. Several other young riders announced their arrival into the top echelon, such as Ayumu’s younger brother Kaishu Hirano, who now holds the World Record for biggest air ever landed in Halfpipe competition. The future looks bright for competitive snowboarding.
Zoi Sadowski-Synnott appears to be the heir-apparent to the Queen of Snowboarding, Jamie Anderson, who was unable to medal, and with Chloe Kim back in competition, the other Halfpipe riders will need to train extra hard to best her in 2026.
Snowboarding is all about progression. A gold-medal run from four years ago wouldn’t podium today. It’s a sport where one-upmanship is the norm and spinning an additional 180 degrees is mandatory to secure the win. The next Winter Olympics will be held in Italy in 2026. It will be amazing to see how many additional rotations and corked flips riders will add to their runs in that time!
What Were They Riding?
Here at Curated, we are obsessed with finding our customers the best snowboarding gear! I checked out which boards the winners were riding to showcase the equipment that gave them a winning edge.
We saw many freestyle riders with the Burton Custom under their feet at this year’s Winter Olympics. The Hirano Brothers were both riding Customs, with younger brother Kaishu on the 21/22 version and Ayumu on a pre-released 22/23 model. Su Yiming, Big Air gold and Slopestyle silver winner was also riding the 22/23 version. Being a multi-time Olympic medalist has its perks!
The Burton Custom is a board that Burton has been refining for over 25 years. Offered in two versions, the precision and stability of the Custom Camber is the top choice for many pro riders, while the Custom Flying V snowboard combines the camber's power with the relaxed float of rocker for the best of both worlds. The Burton Custom is a consummate favorite for riders of all skill sets. Widely considered the most popular, versatile, and most mimicked board in snowboarding, any snowboarder can appreciate the responsiveness and feel of a Custom. It comes in a wide range of sizes, so you can be sure to find the one that specifically suits your needs.
Nitro Team Pro
We saw the Nitro Team Pro under several Slopestyle and Big Air participants. Known to be one of the most technically progressive boards on the market, the new Team Pro snowboard is a stealthy pro version of the best-selling Team snowboard. Equipped to provide more pop, control, and speed, the Pro Team will take a rider’s skill even further. The tried, tested, and proper directional twin shape and dual degressive sidecut provide the perfect blend of flex, edge hold, and control for any style of riding. If you are looking for a familiar ride with plenty of upgrades under the hood for stealthy performance, then the new Team Pro is the board for you.
This is the board that Chloe Kim rode to victory. Don’t let her superpowers in the Halfpipe dissuade you into thinking this is a snowboard for expert-level riders only. The XOXO is built for a multitude of rider abilities and terrain. It’s a playful, progressive, freestyle board that is performance-proven all over the mountain. The C3 camber dominant contour, blunted twin nose and tail shape, snappy flex, and Magne-Traction make the XOXO a Roxy team favorite. Pipes, parks, resorts, wherever you choose to play, this is the board to make your whole mountain a freestyle playground.
If you’re interested in a slightly mellower board, Roxy has several options on offer. Their low price point makes them a favorite of beginner riders as well as experts who are on a budget. The Roxy Riana and Roxy Dawn are amazing boards that can help beginner to intermediate riders progress quickly while looking good on the mountain!
Anna Gasser crushed it in the Big Air competition while riding the 22/23 version of the Burton Talent Scout. While the 22/23 version may not yet be available to us non-Olympians, nothing has been changed about the award-winning shape. The women's Burton Talent Scout Snowboard is on a mission to track down the best of park performance. A step up in pro-driven attitude from other twins, a camber profile gives riders the power, control, and finesse to thrive on all terrain. Designed to fit like a glove, the Talent Scout's off-axis design aligns the Squeezebox core profiling and Frostbite Edges with the typical park rider's stance, unlocking the board's natural flex and edge hold for buttery smooth control. Simply put, this board is a freestyle rider’s dream!
Whether you’re a new rider looking to get onto the slopes for the first time or a seasoned vet who wants to upgrade their current gear, Curated has you covered! Chat with a Snowboard Expert today for a fully customized experience that will match you with the best equipment for your riding style.