Judging SuperUnknown is a crazy experience. I say it every time I write one of these articles, but it needs to be said. Every judge presumably has a different process but I sit and watch each of ~100 videos twice (this usually takes about 2 days) before scoring them each on the official criteria:
20% Technical Ability
40% Overall Impression
Usually, there are around 40 or so which are in contention for the semis/finals, so I take another pass to adjust my scores and try to come up with a personal ranking I feel good about. Those scores are then combined with the other 6 judges, including eheath, Josh Berman and Freedle, to give a final ranking. When watching, I'm looking for something that makes me think 'yes, that guy (or girl) could blow up', rather than that is the most technically talented skier right now. It could be a particularly enjoyable style, doing tons of stuff I've never seen before, or of course, out and out insanity. Street or backcountry shots help, but they aren't the be all and end all (and aren't in the criteria).
The difference between making finals and semi-finals is often only a hair's breadth. It might simply be a particularly stomped landing or one moment of crazy style/creativity that makes the difference. And those same intangible elements that stood out to the judges in their decision making may not do the same for the viewing public. There is a good chance the edit you are most impressed by might be among the semi-finalists which is why you should all VOTE NOW in the wild card poll to send your favorite to the finals shoot at Winter Park. Finalists will be announced two per day until Friday, they are: