Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - American Sage Kotsenburg won the men's snowboard slopestyle to capture the first gold medal of the 2014 Olympics.
The 12-man final consisted of two runs for each rider and Kotsenburg was third on the course Saturday. His brilliant first run earned a score of 93.50 and it held up for the rest of the day.
"The first score held up the whole time, so the last time down I had to wait 10 people, it was so brutal," said Kotsenburg about waiting to see if his early score would hold up.
Norway's Staale Sandbech took silver with a sensational second run and Canada's Mark McMorris won the bronze medal.
Max Parrot of Canada was tops in qualifying on Thursday, earning a direct spot into the final, but he fell on his first run Saturday and had a strong second run that netted only a fifth-place result.
The top eight qualifiers from Thursday reached the final, leaving four places available for riders in the semifinals on Saturday. Kotsenburg and McMorris were among the four to qualify Saturday.
Only four of the 12 riders managed to stay upright on their respective first runs in Saturday's final.
Kotsenburg, the lone American in the field, was among them and his first run was judged the best of the day. While the top contenders were trying triple- cork jumps, his best move was something he called the "Holy Crail," a 4 1/2- rotation spin while grabbing the back of the board.
The 20-year-old Idaho native and Park City, Utah resident was unable to duplicate the effort on his second run, but it didn't matter.
"It's pretty sick to see that some weird, creative stuff was rewarded," added Kotsenburg.
McMorris, a two-time X Games gold medalist, fell on his first run in the final and had no issues on a second run that featured a trio of triple-cork jumps. It resulted in a score of 88.75, good enough for second until Sandbech swiped the silver with a score of 91.75.
Parrot had the last run of the second round and was clean throughout, but he was given a score of only 87.25, finishing behind Sweden's Sven Thorgren.
Another Canadian, Sebastien Toutant, fell on each run and finished ninth.