Big air judging looks at four components of a run:
- Difficulty: How technically difficult is the run? Are the tricks simple and straightforward, or do they include more complex added moves, such as switching from forward launch to a backward landing, board grabs or even customized tricks?
- Execution: How well were the tricks executed? Were they controlled and balanced or was the snowboarder flailing his arms to keep balanced or wobbly on the landing?
- Amplitude: How high (or “big”) was the snowboarder’s takeoff from the jump? Experts have explained that “big air” doesn’t always mean the biggest air you can get, because it could result in a missed landing.
- Landing: Landings have to be clean, without anything but the snowboard touching the ground. Scores will be lowered if the snowboarder falls, touches the ground with any part of his body, or can’t control the landing and continues spinning.
For the women’s favorites, Austrian Anna Gasser, the gold medalist at the X Games is expected to win gold in PyeongChang. Keep an eye out for the U.S. team, too, including gold medalist in slopestyle Jamie Anderson as well as teammates Hailey Langland and Julia Marino.
Men’s faves include Norway’s Marcus Kleveland, Canadians Mark McMorris and Max Parrot, and the U.S.’s 17-year-old slopestyle gold medalist Red Gerard.
Although the sport itself is extreme, its competitors all seem relaxed and downright exuberant. Maybe it’s a carryover from the tenets of surfing and “hanging ten.” Maybe it’s a result of the high-flying adrenaline rushing through their bodies. Maybe it’s the relief that they flew unscathed and landed all in one piece that makes them this happy. Whatever “it” is, viewers can’t be anything but exhilarated right along with them.
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