Hit the park and become a slopestyle instant expert

Creativity, versatility and ingenuity are all critical to slopestyle as skiers and snowboarders make their way down a course filled with jumps and rails as the try to pull off the best tricks. Here's everything you need to know to instantly become a slopestyle expert.

Everything you need to master these extreme events

Canada's Dara Howell, left, wone slopestyle gold in Sochi, while Mark McMorris earned bronze at the 2014 Olympics. (Getty Images)

​By Benjamin Blum, CBC Sports​

Slopestyle is back for its second Olympic Games after a captivating debut four years ago in Sochi that saw Canadian skiers and snowboarders walk away with some serious hardware.

Creativity, versatility and ingenuity are all critical to the event as competitors make their way down a course filled with jumps and rails while they try to pull off the best tricks.

Here's everything you need to know to instantly become a slopestyle expert:

History and format

  • Debuted at 2014 Olympics
  • Featured at Winter X Games, World Cups and other pro tours
  • Men's and women's ski and snowboard events

How the events work

  • Competitors get two runs in qualifying, three in finals
  • Nine judges score the runs (highest score taken)
  • Highest score wins

Style points count... literally

Including "style" in the sport's name wasn't done just to make it sound cool; three of the nine judges evaluate the overall impression of a competitor's run, while the other six score the tricks executed.

So there's a significant amount of importance placed on transitioning seamlessly from the features as well as showcasing a diverse array of jumps and grabs.

Looks pretty cool, right? If you're having some issues with the names of tricks, here are a few helpful terms so you can follow along with the commentators:

  • Switch: When a snowboarder approaches a jump or rail in his opposite stance, or when a skier approaches a feature backwards. 
  • Rotation: Competitors can either turn frontside (exposing the front of their body first) or backside (exposing their back first) when executing a trick. The term cab is used to describe a switch frontside spin.
  • Flips: Pretty simple naming (double, triple and the rare quad) plus a rider can tilt the axis of her spin for a cork.
  • Numbers: Turns off rails are measured in 90-degree increments, while jumps are measured in 180-degree increments.

Competitors can also grab their skis or board in the air for added variation, spin off the ends of rails and a whole host of other manoeuvres to set themselves apart. Don't worry if you get lost in the lingo, you can always try Jason Bateman's bold strategy and see if it pays off:

Canadian domination

Canada's Dara Howell is the reigning women's ski slopestyle champ heading into Pyeongchang, with compatriot and Sochi bronze winner Kim Lamarre joining her in South Korea. Teal Harle and Alex Beaulieu-Marchand headline the men's ski contingent, but they'll be in tough against several strong American and Scandinavian contenders.

In snowboarding, Mark McMorris is looking to improve on his bronze from the 2014 Olympics while fending off challenges from Norway's Markus Kleveland and Canadian frenemy Max Parrot.

McMorris and Parrot excel at both slopestyle and big air, while teammates Sébastien Toutant and Tyler Nicholson could also find themselves in contention as well.

American snowboarder Jamie Andersen is looking to win her second consecutive Olympic title to add to her five X Games golds in the discipline, with Canada's Spencer O'Brien looking to crack the podium after dealing with rheumatoid arthritis during the last Winter Games.

Secrets to sounding smart

Need more big air knowledge? Here are a few things to say that'll automatically make you "the cool one" in your group of friends:

  • The lay of the land. The slopestyle course in Pyeongchang starts with three rails features, followed by three jumps.
  • Tips are encouraged. Slopestyle  skiers wear twin-tip skis that allow for easier movement while going either forwards or backwards.
  • Pitter, patter... Mark McMorris, along with older brother and CBC Olympics host Craig McMorris, made an appearance on an episode of the TV show Letterkenny in December. Speaking of, did you know that show creator/star Jared Keeso played Don Cherry in a pair of TV movies back in the day?


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