Silverthorne resident Kyle Mack wins silver medal in Olympics’ first-ever snowboard big air

Ed Stoner and Antonio Olivero
Kyle Mack, of the United States, celebrates after winning the silver medal in the men's Big Air snowboard competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — At the top of the Olympic big air course, Kyle Mack thought about doing a standard tail grab.

But he had another, more stylish, distinct and difficult grab in mind — the Bloody Dracula. It entails grabbing the tail of the board with both hands.

By the time his fellow Silverthorne snowboarder and good friend Red Gerard was about to drop for his second run, Mack had made up his mind.

“(Gerard) turned back and he goes, ‘Bloody?’” Mack recalled of the pivotal moment. “I’m like, ‘Yeah, you’re going to see it.’”

Mack didn’t even land the trick — officially called a “front-side double 1440 Bloody Dracula” in snowboard lingo — in practice. But the 20-year-old West Bloomfield, Michigan native landed it clean when it counted, for a score of 86.75, taking the silver Saturday in the first men’s snowboarding big air competition at an Olympics.

“The whole reason I wanted to do it was for snowboarding,” he said. “It’s just bringing style into snowboarding is kind of like the main thing I’ve always worked on.”

Mack’s take on the one-of-a-kind trick is not only difficult, it may be even more original and atypical. The move requires the proud Michigander to complete four full 360-degree rotations while also grabbing the rear of his snowboard with both of his mittened-hands.

On his first trick, he landed a backside triple 1440 with a Japan grab.

“To land those two tricks right off the bat, it took all the pressure off me, and it was just insane,” Mack said. “To walk away with the silver here today, it was just mind-blowing.”

Sebastien Toutant, of Canada, took gold with a cab triple cork 1620 and a backside triple cork 1620 — two moves that required him to rotate four-and-a-half times and complete three inversions. Billy Morgan, of Great Britain, got the bronze.

Chris Corning, also of Silverthorne, finished fourth, attempting a massive backside quadruple cork 1800 on his final hit, coming up just short on the landing. Corning’s customary fearlessness was on full display on the groundbreaking attempt.

It was the only trick he didn’t land as, on the attempt, the 18-year-old Silverthorne resident completed the rotations and flips necessary to land the truly-progressive version of the quadruple cork 1800. It’s a watershed trick in the contemporary snowboard landscape that required Corning to complete four inversions and five full 360-degree rotations.

Though his body was in position to land the trick, there was simply too much torque, force and speed occurring at the moment of re-contact with the snow for Corning to stomp the trick. Right when he came in contact with the bottom of the big air landing, the 18-year-old fell hard on his back and slammed the back of his helmet.

Realizing what they had just seen, the crowd in attendance gave Corning a raucous ovation for the gutsy effort, as it was one of — if not the — most difficult and extreme trick attempted all day.

“We gave it our best shot,” Corning said. “We gave everything into it. Needed about 4 more feet of air and it would have landed. Just couldn’t get over my board to land it.”

Gerard, the gold medalist in slopestyle, who had gone back to the U.S. for a media tour and returned to South Korea for the big air contest, finished fifth, putting three Silverthorne guys in the top five of the Olympics.

“We all live about five minutes away from each other, if (not) less,” Mack said. “It was sick to see them all in finals. I won’t lie, I’d love to see the podium sweep with all three of us — it would be like a dream come true. But you know all the other boys killed today and now we just kind of get to go home to Silverthorne and hang out.”

Favorite Max Parrot, of Canada — the final snowboarder to go down the course — was unable to land his final trick, a switch triple cork 1800.

“Before the last run I had the choice to go for an easier trick and land on the podium, but I chose not to,” he said. “I already got a silver from slopestyle, and I’m very happy with my performance from there. But I didn’t want two silvers. I wanted more. So I went for it.”