Japanese big air snowboarder Kokomo Murase became the youngest Winter X Games athlete to win a gold medal at the Norway X Games on May 19th. The 13-year-old champion also became the first girl to land a 1260 double cork in a competition.
Just four weeks after learning the trick, the “secret weapon” flew through the air, curled up, and gripped her board with incredible expertise. As she boarded down the remainder of the course and began to remove her bearings, fans shook their heads in awe.
Snowboarding has been a tough industry for women to be a part of. Walking into a snowboarding shop, one sees that a majority of the gear is aimed towards male consumers instead of women. Some say this is because women are less “marketable” than men in this field.
Snowboarders like Murase are breaking down these barriers. Recently, women’s snowboarding has made giant leaps in gaining big league traction. Young snowboarders like pipe competitor Chloe Kim – who won an X Games gold at 15 – and American snowboarder Maddie Mastro, who shows incredible talent and promise.
But Murase’s competition category ‘Big Air’ is an especially poignant win for women’s snowboarding. Big Air was introduced during the FIS World Championships in 2003 in Kreischberg, Austria, but only men were allowed to compete. It took almost 12 years for women to be allowed in this category.
Even following that, the event was only recently introduced to the Olympics in 2018, because Olympic disciplines must be open to both sexes. Previously, officials cited concerns about safety hazards because women often are lighter than men meaning they can shoot off the ramp higher and faster.
“The addition of big air to the Olympics is a great opportunity for the sport and athletes,” said Jeremy Forster, freeskiing director of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association. “We have such a talented team of women competing in slopestyle and big air. Having two event opportunities for their athleticism, creativity and personalities to be shown to the world is awesome.”
While this progression is a huge step for women, men have a 12-year advantage when it comes to big air tricks, so snowboarders like Murase are truly pushing women’s snowboarding to a new height (literally).
At the end of her run at the Winter X Games, Murase wiped away tears as she was interviewed about her history-breaking jump through a translator. The translator responded immediately that Murase says she’s ready for the next X Games. The announcer laughs in disbelief and asked, “What are you going to do at the next X Games? You just landed a double backside 1260!”
“I’ll do it again and even better,” she responded.
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