PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA - Jamie Anderson of the United States defended her Olympic snowboarding title in convincing fashion, winning the women’s slopestyle event at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on Monday.
In the two-run final that was delayed by high winds, Anderson easily topped the 26-woman field with a first run that featured a backside 540, cab flip and frontside 720, enough to earn her a winning score of 83.00 points at Phoenix Snow Park.
“I’m feeling so happy. 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,” said Anderson.
“I wanted to do a double nine on my first run and I went for it and realized I wasn’t going to clear the jumps. Thankfully, somehow, I connected with my lion power and found (my) feet.”
The 27-year-old from California became the first female snowboarder to win two Olympic golds, successfully defending the title she won in Sochi four years ago.
Yet the enduring image from slopestyle’s second Olympic appearance won’t be Anderson beaming from the victory podium but the hour of carnage that preceded it as rider after rider either crashed or bailed or did some combination of the two.
Laurie Blouin of Canada took silver, with Finland’s Enni Rukajarvi finishing third, a testament more to their courage than their actual skill.
High winds scrubbed qualifying on Sunday, turning Monday’s final into a 26-woman, two-run free-for-all with Anderson, the top-ranked snowboarder in the world, scheduled to go last.
“I was trying to keep the spirits high, like, ‘Let’s run it,’ ” Anderson 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.”
Of the four Japanese women, Yuka Fujimori had the country’s best showing with a ninth-place finish. Olympic debutants Asami Hirono, Reira Iwabuchi and Miyabi Onitsuka placed 12th, 14th and 19th, respectively.