ShareThis Page
American slopestyler Jamie Anderson overcomes dicey conditions to win gold again |

American slopestyler Jamie Anderson overcomes dicey conditions to win gold again

The Associated Press
| Monday, February 12, 2018 6:57 p.m
A planned visit to North Korea by a high-level delegation from the South will come amid a rare moment of good will between the rivals stemming from the recent Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
Women's slopestyle medalists from left, silver medalist Laurie Blouin of Canada, gold medalist Jamie Anderson of the United States and bronze medalist Enni Rukajarvi of Finland.
Getty Images
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Jamie Anderson of the United States competes in the Snowboard Ladies' Slopestyle Final on day three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Phoenix Snow Park on February 12, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Jamie Anderson almost certainly will spend more time gazing at her newest Olympic gold medal than watching replays of the slopestyle run she put down to win it.

Nobody, not even the Olympic champion, would want to re-live the ugliness that played out Monday on the sport’s biggest stage.

The day Anderson cemented herself as an all-time great by defending her Olympic title also will go down as one of the most unpleasant, dangerous days snowboarding ever has seen.

Shifting, bitter winds whipped tiny ice pellets across the iced-over jumps at Phoenix Snow Park and stiffened the orange-colored wind socks in one direction, then another. Hundreds of numbed fans streamed toward the exits while the action was ongoing, and the stands were half empty as the afternoon wore on, with wind chills dipping to 5 degrees and below.

Twenty-five riders took two trips each down a course that, by many of their accounts, should not have been open for action. Of the 50 runs, 41 ended with a rider on her backside or in a face plant, or, in the case of Canadian Spencer O’Brien and a few others, in a slow ride toward the bottom after simply pulling up because they couldn’t build enough speed to reach the crest of a jump.

“All I wanted to do,” said fourth-place finisher Silje Norendal, “was sit up top and cry.”

This was not just sour grapes.

Even Anderson — the sport’s biggest gamer and its No. 1 big-day rider — conceded, “I’m not extremely proud of my run.” Her modest score of 83 still resulted in a blowout of nearly seven points over silver medalist Laurie Blouin of Canada.

But really, what was Anderson to do? After the qualifying round was scrapped because of wind a day earlier, all the riders were summoned back for a two-run final and ordered by their world ranking, giving the top-ranked American the privilege of going last.

After watching rider after rider fail to make her way down the course during Run 1, Anderson added a little wax to her board and stood on top, hoping for a 60-second stretch of calm that would allow her simply to stay upright.

“It was a lottery,” O’Brien said.

Two weeks ago, Anderson won the Winter X Games with a cab double cork 900 — two head-over-heels flips with 2½ twists mixed in. It was one of the gold standards in a sport that prides itself on — in fact, lives for — progression, sometimes at the cost of safety, sanity and everything else.

On this day, Anderson never was tempted to try that kind of trick. Her three jumps at the bottom consisted of a backside 540, a cab 540 and a front 720 — 1½ twists, 1½ twists and two twists. It was the sort of run that might have won a contest in, say, 2005 — if the rest of the riders were having an off day.

Anderson owned the fact she won simply by surviving and also took credit for being one of the few snowboarders who actually wanted to ride.

“I was trying to keep the spirits high, like, ‘Let’s run it,’ ” she said. “A handful of the girls were like, ‘No, it’s not safe,’ and things like that. It’s not like what we’re doing is safe, anyhow.”

Given the ugliness of the day, a few questions loomed: Why were organizers so quick to cancel the men’s downhill Sunday and the women’s giant slalom Monday in other parts of the mountains of Pyeongchang but insistent on staging the men’s and women’s slopestyle contests? And what considerations were made for NBC, which pays billions to televise these events live in prime time in the United States?

Roby Moresi, the contest director for the International Skiing Federation, told the Associated Press that safety, not TV, was the primary concern, and that winds on the Alpine mountains were much stronger than what whipped around on the slopestyle course.

Categories: News
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.