Sitting in the hotel lobby lounge with the few stragglers left in Bejing the day after the contest was over, a casual conversation with Mikkel Bang ended up turning to the subject of tricks. I had been standing next to his team manager during his last run of the night, and had been told he was going to try a 14. We were both surprised when he ended up throwing a 12 (or maybe it was a switch bs 12) instead.
So what happened, I asked? Did you just not get the last rotation on the 14, or did you decide not to go for it?
Now, like I said, we were just talking to pass the time. There was no recording device, so I can't quote him directly. But this is how I remember the conversation going:
He said he was going to try a 14, because he didn't think it'd be that hard. It was just an extra rotation on the 12, and the jump was big enough that they'd all been almost over-rotating anyway. But in the end he decided not to do it because he was tired, and he'd never actually done one before.
So, you were just going to throw a trick you've never done before, for the first time ever ... during the final round of a major snowboard contest, I asked? And he shrugged and said yes. Like it was no big deal. We all do that, he explained. Contests are practice.
Practice for what, I asked? Other contests, he replied. Or for him, contests were where he practiced tricks he wanted to try in the backcountry. Why was I surprised? They all spent most of their winters either filming or at contests. When else were they supposed to practice?
How about when you're freeriding, I asked? He shook his head, no -- when I'm freeriding, I'm freeriding. Then he listed off the other guys in the contest who also had tried new tricks for the first time. I believe he said Scotty Lago almost landed a switch double rodeo, but I can't get confirmation from Lago on it, so maybe it was a double tindy 5. It was a long week -- I don't really remember the specifics of anything I didn't write down at the end there.
The conversation gave me a new outlook on this upcoming season of slopestyle and big air competitions, though. From where I sat during the contest, Seb Toutant was pretty much unbeatable because he was the only one in the competition with a legitimate double cork -- meaning, fully corked, all the way around through both rotations. (There were some semi-corks, but I don't know if you can really count a slightly dipped shoulder on a single rotation as a "double cork." What is that, anyway? Half cork? Semi cork? Psuedo cork?) And behind him, Seppe Smits' backside 12 to cat-like landing was an unbeatable second in a field of hard landings and partial hand drags.
Bang gave me hope that maybe this won't be a season of Toutant's cab double cork 12 winning him every contest he doesn't fall in, with back 12 flat spins battling it out for second, and cork 10 variations battling for third. Maybe these guys really are just getting warmed up, and by the time we get to the Air & Style Innsbruck, we'll see something completely new. That's kind of exciting.
Earlier in the week, I sat Seb -- who, by the way, turned 18 last week -- down to ask him about the double cork and their place in contests. I also got some footage of his runs, as well as the other 12s thrown in the comp, so I figured I'd throw all the video together so those of you who are curious can check it out, and those of you with dreams of being the Next Big Pro can see what you're up against. Enjoy.