As snowboarders in Sochi complained about the deteriorating conditions of the Olympic course, the first athlete to win a gold medal at the Games was already back in the U.S., celebrating his success.
“This is the first time I’m in New York ever so to come back and just be welcomed like this is pretty rad,” Sage Kotsenburg, who won gold in the men’s slopestyle last weekend, said today on “Good Morning America.”
Not far from Kotsenburg’s mind, however, was his teammate Shaun White, who placed fourth in the men’s halfpipe Tuesday in one of the biggest shocks of the Olympics so far, failing to scoop up his third consecutive gold medal — or any medal — in the event.
“The snow was kind of deteriorating over there, and the pipe wasn’t very good so that sucks,” Kotsenburg said. “It’s pretty unfortunate to have a pipe that was just kind of falling apart. It’s tough to ride those.”
White, who called the pipe course “disappointing” before competing on Tuesday, had all of his Olympic hopes pinned on the event after dropping out of the brand-new slopestyle competition, deeming it too “intimidating.”
Kotsenburg, 20, unveiled a brand new trick — the self-created “Holy Crail” — in the inaugural Olympic slopestyle event, but said he understood White’s decision to not race in the competition.
“It was a big course and it was pretty heavy, especially if you’re going to do two events, the slopestyle and pipe,” Kotsenburg said. “First time slopestyle was there, and he was going for a three-peat so I definitely understand why he would pull out and want to save himself for pipe.”
Kotsenburg, a resident of Park City, Utah, says he is still in shock that he is now among the ranks of the American snowboarders he watched compete at the 2002 Winter Olympics, held in nearby Salt Lake City, Utah.
“I remember so much of it,” Kotsenburg said of the Salt Lake City Games, where American men swept the halfpipe competition. “It’s like one of the things that got me so stoked on snowboarding.”
“I guess I’m one of them now.”