American Jamie Anderson repeated as the Olympic gold medalist in women's slopestyle. The 27-year old dominated in horrific conditions that nearly led to the postponement of the event, becoming the first snowboarder to bring home two gold medals in slopestyle.
Anderson's gold medal winning score was 83.00. Canada's Laurie Blouin was the silver medalist with a score of 76.33 with Finland's Enni Rukajarvi claiming the bronze, posting a mark of 75.38.
Riders speak out on dangerous conditions, feel event should not have been run
With snow falling, matters were further complicated with winds so severe that snow somersaulted in the sky. Organizers had delayed the event’s start time by an hour and when faced with the decision of postponing the final or not, they decided to go ahead. Some of the world’s best snowboarders were reduced to crash test dummies.
At the bottom of the mountain, from the vantage point of the grandstands, the slopestyle course was a near-total unknown, obscured by a hump-like final jump. All fans could do was follow on a video screen and then wait to spot an airborne snowboarder. Snowboarders said that their boards acted like giant sails, catching the wind and amplifying it.
Even before Monday, the event had already been warped by weather. Under normal conditions, the final day of the women’s slopestyle would have consisted of three runs. The field competing in those runs would have already been trimmed in an earlier day of qualifying. But due to the weather, Sunday’s qualifying run was cancelled.
So instead, everybody made the finals — and had two runs, not three, to prove themselves. The finals were then delayed for an hour by weather. Officials finally decided to start the competition — in conditions that riders said were worse than Sunday’s.
“I’m not happy about it being run,” said Cheryl Maas of the Netherlands, who placed 23rd. “It’s not just me. It’s everybody landing on their ass. It sucks not seeing 1080s. It was just a s---show.”
“Well, it’s really a battle with nature,” added Switzerland’s Elena Koenz, who came in 10th. “It’s interesting to watch, maybe, but not if you’re flying 25 meters in the air. It’s not how we can show the best conditions for our sport.”
Austria's Anna Gasser, who finished 15th went so far as to say “I don’t think it was a fair competition. I’m a little disappointed. I think they should have cancelled it.”
Following the conclusion of the event, the International Ski Federation released the following statement: “FIS always aims for the athletes to be able to stage their best performances, which some athletes have expressed was not the case today, but the nature of outdoor sports also requires adapting to the elements".
Anderson takes advantage of conditions, repeats as Olympic champion
Ironically, the only competitor who didn't seem fazed by the conditions was Anderson. She vaulted into first place with her first run and then waited an hour, as 24 other snowboarders tried to outdo her. (One other rider dropped out.)
She nailed jumps when others fell, aimed slightly higher when others went conservative, and in very blunt terms said “I was kind of down for whatever.”
After the competitors took their first runs, she had a 10-point lead ahead of Norway's Silje Norendal, who had 73.81 points, and fellow American teammate Jessika Jenson, who scored 72.26.
Heading into the second run, wind conditions worsened and many of the snowboarders faltered on the second jump. Norendal didn't improve on her second run and after many of her challengers fell, it was evident Anderson was going to win.
When the day’s penultimate snowboarder, Anderson's teammate, Julia Marino, scored a 41.05, Anderson was standing atop the mountain, ready to take her final run knowing she was once again the Olympic champion.
"I've gone through so much this last year just preparing for the Games and defending the gold is definitely not an easy position to be in,” she said after affirming her status as the world's best snowboarder.
“I'm just so happy I put one down and I really didn't think it was going to last over to the second run. I was planning on doing a better run and cleaning everything up, but honestly, I'm ecstatic."