Name: Stale Sandbech
Disciplines: Slopestyle, Big Air
2016/17 WST slopestyle ranking: 7th
2016/17 WST big air ranking: 13th
- 2014 Olympic slopestyle silver medalist
- 3-time X Games slopestyle medalist (2 silver, 1 bronze)
- 2-time X Games big air bronze medalist (2013, 2014)
Sandbech’s Olympic debut came in halfpipe at the 2010 Vancouver Games; just 16 years old at the time, he posted a 30th-place finish. Things went much better four years later in Sochi when he competed in the inaugural Olympic slopestyle contest and took the silver medal. In his run, he landed a cab 1260, frontside 1440 and backside triple cork 1440 on the jumps. At the medal ceremony, he shaped his long, flowing hair into a tall, spiked Mohawk.
Part of a stacked Norwegian team, Sandbech is capable of contending for a medal in both slopestyle and big air. He has historically fared slightly better in slopestyle though.
Potential Olympic records
With one medal already in his collection and two separate events coming up in PyeongChang, Sandbech has a shot at leaving Korea as the most decorated male Olympic snowboarder ever. Currently, no male snowboarder has more than two medals. Vic Wild, Zan Kosir, Benjamin Karl (parallel giant slalom), Mark McMorris (slopestyle/big air) and Shaun White (halfpipe) are the other leading contenders in this category. Like Sandbech, any of them could run their tally up to three total medals.
Sandbech is a master of the bigger flat spins, and he executes them with style. In his runs, he will often eschew the trend of off-axis double corks and triple corks and instead spin stylish 1260s and 1440s that only have horizontal rotation, which many riders say are even more difficult to land than their inverted counterparts. But Sandbech can still throw the triples when he needs to. A big difference though — his triple corks will often be done with an indy grab (rear hand), rather than the standard mute grab (front hand) that most riders do.
When he was 8 years old, Sandbech received a snowboard from his brother Frode as a Christmas present. The two brothers went riding the next day, and an obsession was born for Sandbech, who later spent some time training at a local snowboarding school.
Sandbech has dropped halfpipe from his competition routine, instead focusing on just slopestyle and big air. In slopestyle, he built on his success from the 2013/14 season by continuing to be a consistent podium contender and earning hardware at major competitions such as X Games, Dew Tour and the Burton European Open. In big air, he has found success on the Air & Style tour, winning the overall series title in 2015.
2016/17 season recap
Prior to the start of the season, Sandbech underwent multiple knee surgeries — including a follow-up procedure in October — that kept him out of competition until January. One of his first contests back was X Games Aspen, where he finished fourth in slopestyle and fifth in big air. Several weeks later, he placed sixth in slopestyle at the Burton U.S. Open and then earned a silver medal in slopestyle at X Games Norway. Sandbech closed out the season by winning gold in big air at the world championships, though the event was skipped by several top riders.
Off the snow
Sandbech participates in aquatic activities such as surfing and sailing. Like many snowboarders, he also enjoys getting on a skateboard.
YouTube: Stale Sandbech