Sage Kotsenburg Won Slopestyle With a “1620 Japan Air Mute Grab.” What Does That Mean?

A Blog About the Olympic Games
Feb. 8 2014 5:48 PM

Sage Kotsenburg Won Slopestyle With a “1620 Japan Air Mute Grab.” What Does That Mean?

467139965-sage-kotsenburg-competes-in-the-mens-snowboard_1
Sage Kotsenburg competes in the men's snowboard slopestyle second heat qualification during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 6, 2014.

Photo by Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images

American snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg won the first gold medal of the Sochi Games on Saturday morning after impressing the men’s slopestyle judges with a trick he calls the “Holy Crail.” (Yahoo’s Jeff Passan has the story of how a 17-year-old girl came up with the name.) The maneuver, in which he spins in the air four and a half times while holding his snowboard behind his back, is officially known as a “1620 Japan Air Mute Grab.” Guh? Let’s break it down.

1620: This is pretty straightforward. Kotsenburg made four full 360-degree spins, and one 180-degree spin. Three hundred sixty times four plus 180 equals 1620.

Advertisement

Japan Air: “Japan Air” is the name of a trick in which the airborne athlete takes his front hand, reaches down over his front leg to grab the edge of his snowboard nearest to his toes—the “toe edge”—and then pulls the board behind him. According to the book Skateboarding: Legendary Tricks, the move was pioneered in the mid-1980s by skateboarders Tony Hawk and Lester Kasai, “after seeing a photo of a kid doing a tuck knee mute air in Japan.” Here’s a video demonstration of how the trick is done:

Mute Grab: A “mute grab” is when you use your front hand to grab the toe edge of your snowboard between your feet. The move was popularized in the 1980s by a hearing-impaired skateboarder named Chris Weddle, hence the “mute” monicker. It probably would’ve been nicer to call it the “Weddle Grab,” but, hey, it was the 1980s. Anyway, watch this adorable Southern child attempt to demonstrate a mute grab on his own skateboard:

So, putting it all together: Kotsenburg sailed into the air, grabbed the toe edge of his board with his front hand between his two feet, pulled the board behind him, and spun 1620 degrees before landing. 1620 Japan Air Mute Grab. Makes sense to me!

Justin Peters is a writer for Slate. He is working on a book about Aaron Swartz, copyright, and the rise of “free culture.” Email him at justintrevett@fastmail.fm.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.