Snowboarding has been growing at the Games. It made its debut in 1998, with two events each for men and women, and now is up to five.
Like most so-called extreme sports, injuries are a big part of big air.
“The crazy part about what I’m doing is I get injured so much and still — every time I’m laying down there, all I want is to get back on my feet, which I think a lot of people think is crazy,” said the women’s favorite Anna Gasser of Austria.
Gasser competed in slopestyle at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, four years ago, and fell twice, finishing 10th. “I was pretty young and inexperienced,” she said. “And the expectations went so high overnight. I think, as such a young athlete, I wasn’t used to that. I wasn’t used to having crazy media attention like everyone — I remember I should have never opened my Facebook. I had a million messages. A million friend requests. I didn’t realize until that moment how big the Olympics were, and I think that made me nervous and also made me fall in the finals.”
A former gymnast, Gasser has completed a backside double cork 1080.
McMorris and Gasser will be challenged by a strong American team, including Chris Corning, 18, and Ryan Stassel, 25. The United States has won five of 12 medals in the men’s World Cup this year.
The American women’s team includes Jamie Anderson, who won a gold medal in slopestyle four years ago; Julia Marino; and 17-year-old Hailey Langland, the X Games champion, who will also be showing off a double cork 1080.