Snowboard Judging

March 18, 2014

So the Olympics were great, and for my bias mind the Snowboarding was one of the highlights. But for all the good, there was gonna be the critics. And one of their criticisms was the Judging of the Slopestyle and Halfpipe events, and that FIS was full of out of contact old judges. Well first of all the Slopestyle judging panel of six had 120 years of judging experience combined, that’s quite a bit if you ask me..!!

In an interview with Whitelines (British Snowboard Mag)  one of the said judges Iztok Sumatic from Slovenia, talked a little about the top 6 being the right 6, and that within the judging panel of six there can be agreement and disagreement, but by taking the best and worst score away, it makes it fair. And in Sages Kostenberg’s case the wow factor of him doing tricks that the judges had never seen before was the thing that sealed the deal for him.

Screenshot 2014-03-18 11.55.19

Below is the criteria that the FIS and Olympic Freestyle events are judged with.

Sochi 2014 Olympic Judging Critera Slopestyle

Overall Impression (3 – 5 Judges counting scores)

All judges will score the run by evaluating the run from start to finish with an overall
precision. The judges evaluate the precise nature of the run in relation to maneuvers
attempted, both individually and as a sequence. The overall composition of the run is
very important as the judges evaluate the sequences of tricks, the amount of risk in
the routine, and how the rider uses the course. The judges take falls, mistakes and
stops into consideration and can deduct up to 20 % of the points of the run/judge for
each fall/stop. (See deduction scale: 3007.4)

Judges must have a good trick knowledge. Without understanding the trick, it must
be very hard to finalize a result.

When judging Overall Impression a judge must consider, in no particular order the
following criteria:


For Slopestyle, amplitude is not just going “BIG” on the kickers but landing the tricks
on kickers at the decided “sweet spot”. To have too much or too little amplitude on
kickers is dangerous and must also be considered by the judges. Showing good
amplitude on kickers is by “popping” of the kicker and having a good trajectory in the
air, not too flat. Exception is if you buttering of the kicker on purpose.
Greater amplitude increases the risk of the trick.

Difficulty is affected by more than just the number of rotations performed. The judges
will also consider the following:

-Switch take offs or landings
-Frontside or Backside rotations
-Take offs, on heel or toe
-Different grabs
-Blind landings
-Big or small kickers
-Hard combinations and the sequence of tricks
-Different rotation axis (Longitudinal/Lateral Axis, Vertical Axis)
-How to get: on or off the rails? Easy or Hard way, Nr of Rotations, Easy boxes or
hard kink rails,

Performing grabs, boning or tweaking a trick can affect the difficulty of that trick. For
example where a rider grabs the board and with which hand can have a significant
impact on the difficulty of a rotation.

Control should be maintained throughout the whole run. . The riding should be
performed with stability and fluidity. Each individual trick should be performed with full
control. An athlete should reach and hold the position chosen to demonstrate that
this is the position he/she wants to execute.
In rotations flips and different hybrids, the rotation should be done in one manoeuvre
and control should be held, demonstrated in one unique movement with an equal
rotational rhythm from beginning to the end. “The trick should look easy”.
If the intention is to grab, the grab should be made on the board and not anywhere
else. (boot grab, Binding grabs etc…)

Preformed grab/grabs are very important in all kind of manoeuvres and a missed or
weak grab will influence the judges score radical. Approaching a rail from the side is
considered better execution than approaching from a straight direction. The athlete
should be balanced and locked on until the end of the rail.

Variety is a key factor in an athlete’s run.
Mixing different tricks into a good run. Spinning different ways:
Backside/ Frontside, Left/Right, Longitudinal/Lateral Axis, Take offs and landings
should be a mix of switch and normal. Grabbing the board with different grabs on
different spins.

By rewarding progression we help to push the sport forward.
Introducing new tricks that have not been performed before

Combination has a close overlap with Variety, to have good hard trick combinations
between all different features in the slopestyle. The composition of the tricks must fit
to be able to use the course in a proper manner. When the course allows different
lines, the selection off the lines are essential. The chosen line should be fluent.
Creativity will be awarded.

For a judge to “know” how difficult tricks and combos are, judges need to have
communication with athletes and coaches to hear their opinions. However, these
matters should be discussed with coaches at official coaches meetings during the
season and not at each competition. Difficulty is a very individual thing and athletes,
judges and coaches may disagree with each other when discussing difficulty scales.
However, judges must have a clear opinion when working on a competition what is
easy and what is difficult.

1 – 5 Minor mistake as : instable body during landings, possible small
handtouch, using hands for stability and other instabilities.
6 – 15 Medium mistakes as: reverts light touch downs, heavy hand
touches, body contact with snow.

16–20 Major mistakes as hard touch downs, falls, complete falls.

The deduction by the Judges is taken from the score that would have been given with
a correct completed landing on the tricks.

For example a competitor, considered to be not under control could be awarded 45
points by a Judge for the run and receive a 20 point deduction for a major landing
fault, thus giving the competitor a score of 25.


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