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U.S. Strikes First Olympic Gold at Sochi

Sage Kotsenburg took the gold in the men's slopestyle with a best score of 93.50, with Norway's Staale Sandbech taking the silver and Canadian Mark McMorris the bronze.


American Sage Kotsenburg won the men's snowboarding slopestyle title at the Sochi Games on Saturday, the first gold medal of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Kotsenburg took the gold with a best score of 93.50, with Norway's Staale Sandbech taking the silver and Canadian Mark McMorris the bronze.

Mega-star Shaun White -- who took a tumble, hurting his wrist and ankle -- pulled out of the event to focus on the halfpipe after labelling the course "intimidating", despite changes at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park prompted by criticism from riders.

But others fared much worse. On Monday, gold medal contender Torstein Horgmo of Norway broke his collarbone while attempting a difficult trick on the rail feature.

Austrian Adrian Krainer pulled out of the Games after a training crash on Friday left him with a deep cut to his chin and injuries to both heels.

And teenage US freestyle skiing starlet Maggie Voisin's Olympic dream was shattered after a fall on the course, also used by slopestyle skiers.

Adding to the headaches for organisers, several competitors have complained about scoring during the event.

One of the favorites, Canada's Mark McMorris, who squeezed into the final Saturday, was left bemused after he earlier failed to gain direct qualification despite a seemingly faultless second run that he felt did not get the score it deserved.

"I just didn't think my run was worth such a low score, I didn't see what was that much more insane about their runs, but it's a judged sport," said McMorris, who finished seventh in his heat on Thursday.

And his concerns were echoed by Kotsenburg.

"A lot of people in here were upset (at the judging). I'm not going to do a run (with a lot of tricks) just because that's what they (the judges) want to see," he said following training on Friday.

"I hope it changes. I wouldn't even want to watch it (snowboarding) if it doesn't."

And he had particular sympathy for McMorris.

"I think Mark McMorris had a super solid run. He could have cleaned up his rails but there's such a thing as style and he made it look effortless."

Kotsenburg's teammate Chas Guldemond said the controversy could have a detrimental affect on the event.

"A couple of things made me raise my eyebrows. This is the one event you've got to get right," he said.

"They need to figure out the mistakes and fix them. This is a big deal.

"We've worked so hard to get here (slopestyle in the Olympics). Everyone is watching."