Anderson flies to slopestyle gold
Vail, CO Colorado
ASPEN – The new powder on Buttermilk that arrived last night set the scene for a difficult afternoon for the Winter X women’s snowboarding slopestyle final.
Men competing in an elimination round Friday morning remarked that the course ran slow. The women had to contend with similar conditions.
After the first seven riders in the first round fell or bailed out before the final jump, Kjersti Oestgaard Buaas of Norway finally put together a complete run after free airing the third jump. She moved into the lead with a 78.33.
Then, American Jamie Anderson took her run.
Anderson wowed commentators and the crowd, linking a frontside 720, a switch backside 540, a backside 540 and finishing with a switch backside 180. Her rail work up top was clean as well, and she took control with a 94.
Anderson, who won bronze last year here, did not relax with the lead. On her third and final run, she posted a 95.33, a new slopestyle scoring record.
“After getting third last year, I was really working hard on some new tricks,” Anderson said. “It definitely feels good to land a good run and take first.”
No other competitor scored above 90 as Anderson took her fourth gold in the event and her sixth overall. She has medaled in every Winter X slopestyle competition she has entered.
“The toughest part of the course was definitely the bottom four jumps,” Anderson said. “They were really close together so you had to be perfect on almost all of them or else, if you were one foot to the right, you could hardly hit the next jump.”
After Anderson’s first run, Enni Rukajarvi of Finland, last year’s gold medalist, completed the third clean run of the day with consecutive backside 540s on the first two jumps, then backside 360s on the final two. Her run moved her into second place with an 82.66; she finished the day with that score, settling for second place. Buaas failed to produce another clean run and finished third.
“It was a little bit slow, and I never knew if I was going to clear the jump or go too far,” Buaas said. “So you kind of had to freestyle it as you went, and it was a little bit windy as well.”
The slow course was the topic of the day, as numerous competitors glided down the hill after bailing out before the second jump because they didn’t have enough speed to complete a jump. Outside of the medalists, of the other seven competitors, only Charlotte Van Gils of the Netherlands was able to complete a clean run that did not involve falling or skipping any of the jumps. Van Gils finished fourth with a 65.
“Usually when I get to an event I try to think of the best possible run I can maybe do,” Anderson said. “It was similar to the run I wanted to do. I decided to do what I knew I was going to land.”
With competitors not even close to reaching Anderson’s first-run score, let alone break into medal contention, she said that her nerves were gone and she was just trying to hold off the defending champion.
“It definitely wasn’t a victory lap, more of making it a little bit better,” Anderson said. “I just tried to go bigger on the jumps and land a little bit better.”
With her last run, she conquered a course that caused grief for most of the field and won easily by a margin of 12.33. For Buaas, the third-place finish is her first medal in the Games after finishing fourth in three other competitions.
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