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Sunday, January 27, 2013

What's a Triple Cork: Breaking Down the Winter X-Games' Biggest Trick

By Andrew Sachs
If you've watched any of the Winter X-Games, you've definitely heard about the games' biggest trick: the triple cork.  The triple cork has been the trick locking up gold for competitors in all kinds of events, including the skiing big air (nose butter triple cork 1620) and snowboard big air (switch backside triple cork 1440) competitions.  And to the announcers and competitors who mention the triple cork, it seems obvious that everyone knows exactly what it is.

But we were having some trouble totally understanding the mechanics of the triple cork - it happens in about the blink of an eye.  So we decided to break down the move for ourselves and for anyone else out there who wanted to know a little more about the triple cork.

A cork is a type of flip.  During a spin, the axis of the rider is turned upside down or completely sideways in the air.  Some corks are made differently than than others; not all riders get completely inverted in every cork.  Turning a single cork into a triple cork means that the rider inverts himself at three different times during the aerial rotation.

The challenge for judges is to determine which triple corks are better than others.  X games judge Tom Zikas explained what the judges are looking for in triple corks.  In the lead-up to Winter X-Games 2013, he said, "What we look at more is how inverted it actually is.  Some people dip slightly and some people are way more corked, more inverted.  That makes a difference to us.  How big it is is a factor, how long you hold your grab, getting it clean and huge."
To completely understand the trick, we snapped screen shots of Torstein Horgmo's switch backside triple cork 1440 that won him gold in snowboard big air:

The first cork happens the fastest and is the hardest to see.  Immediately off the ramp, Horgmo inverts his body through a spin in pictures 1 to 4.  In picture 4, he is fully upright and fully facing forward, proof that he nailed his first cork.  In picture 5 he adds a grab and whips into cork 2 by picture 6.

At picture 9, Horgmo is once again fully upright and fully facing forward.  He seems to be headed for a perfect landing.  But he still has to throw one more cork for the triple!

For the third time since launching off the ramp, Horgmo is fully upright, facing forward, ready for the perfect landing.  And the celebration and gold medal at the bottom of the ramp.