ASPEN, Colo. (AP) - The snowboarding trick that might win the Olympics originated not from you-know-who but from a rider known as “I-Pod.”
His full name is Iouri Podladtchikov (pronounced YOU-ree Pod-LAT-she-kawv). His trick is called the “Yolo Flip.”
It’s a double-cork 1440 - four full twists packed inside of two flips.
That’s a half-twist more than what Shaun White did at the last Olympics, when he won gold for the second straight time. It’s the newest, toughest thing happening on a halfpipe. So extreme, in fact, that when White saw I-Pod land it, he abandoned what he was doing to try to copy it.
Podladtchikov knows he won’t win a gold medal simply for being a trendsetter. But, he says, it’s a good way to roll into the Olympics - a pretty nice opening move in the seemingly impossible mission to unseat White in Sochi.
“Being in a position where I gave Shaun the idea of what comes next? I can’t really find words for how precious that is to me,” said Podladtchikov, whose last Olympic tuneup comes Sunday in a superpipe final at the Winter X Games that White chose to skip in order to rest. “It’s a very huge form of respect by him. That’s what makes the journey and my career more beautiful.”
The 25-year-old Swiss snowboarder has always been considered one of White’s main challengers, but sometimes when the lights have been the brightest, he has not always shined. He finished fourth in Vancouver, his tricks and jumps dwarfed by White’s gold-medal performance.
Still, I-Pod’s latest trick was such a game-changer that his native country, Russia, tried to see if Podladtchikov might consider leaving his adopted nation of Switzerland, where he moved to as a kid, to compete for the host country.
No thanks, he said.
“My snowboarding evolved around places and people that are in Switzerland,” said Podladtchikov said. “It would be a really big change to bring in new people. I didn’t feel that energy.”
Podladtchikov started working on the Yolo about three years ago, but shelved it because all 10 times he tried it into an air bag, he couldn’t land on his feet. Not even close.
“I left it. I let it be,” he said.
Fast-forward a few months: He was going through a practice session at Mammoth Lakes, Calif., when he grabbed the board a different way. Voila, the trick was dialed in.
“The dynamic of the trick got its final shine,” said Podladtchikov, who works with his sponsor, Quiksilver, to design the outerwear he wears in the pipe. “That change of the grab made it happen. I landed on my feet. I was laughing. I thought it wouldn’t be very realistic three years ago. Then, two years later, I’m training again with a different grab and I’m like, ‘Oh, this works.’ I was so excited to try it.”
His plan was to unveil it at Winter X last season. But the stress and the nerves of attempting it made him sick. It was snowing, too, and it was “not the best day to try a next-level trick.”