During competitions such as Big Air, Aerials, Moguls, Slopestyle, or Halfpipe, both in ski and snowboard disciplines, their decisions, evaluations and points awarded to competitors, make the difference between winners and losers. They are the competition judges.
Located in small rooms at the side of the competition venues, in lofty positions atop scaffolding, these tight and confined spaces can sometimes feel like sardines in a can. «Although this is serious competition, you sometimes have to break the monotony and enjoy yourself a little», explained Matt Jennings from the USA, who is a Head Judge at Sierra Nevada 2017. Nevertheless, these judges are strict and highly professional, all with years of experience in the sports they’re observing. Often it’s the same teams of judges who travel together around the world at different events, because teamwork is an important part of their task.
Fairness is also crucial. «You have to judge without bias, evaluating each rider without knowing which country they’re from. We usually only see their bib number and not the names. We look at the trick they’ve done, compare them with others and then we give the scores», he insisted.
Working alongside Jennings as one of the judges is Ola Sundekvist from Sweden, who explained some of the technical aspects. «We base points on the criteria for each trick from 1 to 100. Then we count the average to make the total, focusing on difficulty, execution, amplitude and landing.»
In terms of pressure and experience, Sundekvist concluded, «It’s a great responsibility, but this team has also judged at the Olympics and lots of events».